‘Growing’ In Grace [v240]

FEBRUARY 2019

20TH ANNIVERSARY POST


NOTE: There is a new animated version of “The Pilgrim’s Progress” coming to theaters nationwide, APRIL 18th and 20th. To see the trailer, and find out where it is playing in your town, visit https://pilgrims.movie/


As it is depicted in the allegory “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” the Christian requires a lifetime of GROWING in grace such that they are ‘prepared’ to enter God’s Heaven.

Beside the Bible, perhaps the greatest book ever written was “The Pilgrim’s Progress.” The book, published over 300 years ago, it is a creative masterpiece that has ‘touched’ lives literally around the globe—making biblical truth relevant and accessible for any generation.

It is a fascinating story of a man called “Christian,” whose ‘pilgrimage’ from earth to Heaven—from sin to salvation—is full of an incredible amount of trials, tribulations, and pitfalls.

After a bit in his incredible journey, he reaches the house of the Interpreter. He is still traveling with a heavy ‘pack’ on his back (representing sin), and none of the people who he has met up to now has been able to help relieve his burden.

Leading Christian to view a very large parlor full of dust, Interpreter calls for a man to sweep out the room. He raises such a cloud of dust that Christian all but chokes. Turning to a damsel standing by, Interpreter asks her, “Bring hither water and sprinkle the room.” As soon as that is done, the room is “swept and cleansed with pleasure.” When Christian asks the meaning of this, Interpreter tells him that the parlor is the ‘heart’ of man, which has to be swept out to remove the dust of “original sin and inward corruptions,” and that the damsel with her water is the Gospel that makes the soul clean and “consequently fit for the King of Glory to inhabit” (John 15:3; Ephesians 5:26; Acts 15:9; Romans 16:25-26). The man that began to sweep at first, represent the Old Testament “Law,” and the lady that sprinkled the water is representative of the ‘grace’ of God (the New Testament “Gospel”) which bring the forgiveness ‘of’ God and peace ‘with’ God. [ The Gospel is the saving acts of God due to the work of Jesus on the Cross, and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead which brings reconciliation/“atonement” between people and God ].

Bunyan portrays here in a simple illustration the essence of the Apostle Paul’s teaching in Romans concerning the relationship between the Law and the Gospel. While the Law is holy, righteous, and good—in that it is a reflection of God’s perfect character—it cannot and was never meant to save men from their sins. The Law ‘defines sin’, as Paul explains:

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law” [ Romans 7:7 ].

The Law exposes the vileness of a man’s heart, but it is powerless as a remedy to cleanse the heart. In fact, the Law, rather than purifying, ‘stirs up’ sin and makes it more obvious. As Paul says, “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound” [ Romans 5:20 ]. The harder men try to save themselves by keeping the Law, the more sin is revealed and brought to light. Christian already found this to be true in his experience on the slopes of Mount Sinai. He learned then that his only hope for salvation would be found at the Cross, not in the Town of Legality.

“Moreover, the Law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” [ Romans 5:20-21 ].

What the Law could not do, the Gospel does with pleasure. What we could never do in our attempts to serve and please God through the Law, our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us! Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” [ Ephesians 2:8-9 ].

 

In rich metaphorical language, Bunyan declares that dependence on adherence to the Law as the means of being made right with God causes only more of mess than before. This legalistic type of attaining righteousness results in nothing more than “choking” the Pilgrim—robbing him of the opportunity to see clearly the life-changing power of the genuine Gospel of grace.

The Law, when it sets to work on a heart, doesn’t cleanse that heart from its sin, but only makes the sin “appear exceedingly sinful.” Only the Gospel brings “peace in believing.”

 

RECEIVING GRACE

It took GRACE, “the sweet grace of the Gospel,” to ‘cleanse’ that room of all is ‘defilements’—and it still does!

The thing is, Christian was originally called by a different name. In the scene where he mentions it, Christian is conversing with a porter. The porter asks him his name, and Christian responds, “My name is Christian, but my name at first was “Graceless.” The same could be said for all who claim to be a believer—we all were “graceless,” but are now considered a “Christian,” a “child” of God, and heirs of His Kingdom!

 

For the believer, God is working to make them ‘grace-full’, and prepare them for their final destination, “the Celestial City” (Heaven), as “The Pilgrim’s Progress” calls it. Since Jesus has cleansed the believer’s ‘heart’ of the debris of inner corruptions and the ‘dust’ of sin’s domination, God then daily works to awaken grace within them and ‘conform’ them into the character and “likeness” of His Son, Jesus (“For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into ‘conformity’ with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” – Philippians 3:20-21).

Don’t miss the key in all this: “conformity.” (“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” – Philippians 1:6). All believers will be engaged in what is called “PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION”—our own “pilgrim’s progress”—under God’s mighty ‘hand’ and constant guidance and surveillance. His goals for the believer is clear: that they will become like Jesus, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

 

PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION

The term “growing in grace” is most often used to indicate growth in Christian character. Author Jerry Bridges refines it a bit more saying it means “to continually grow in our understanding of God’s grace,” especially as it applies to us personally, to become progressively more aware of our own continued spiritual bankruptcy and the unmerited, and earned, and undeserved favor of God.”

As we grow in grace this way, we will grow in our motivation to obey God out of a sense of gratitude to Him. However, our obedience will always be imperfect in performance in this life. So, don’t be discouraged. If you realize your motives are largely ‘merit’ oriented, just begin to move toward ‘grace’ motives.

 

To live by grace is to live solely by the ‘merit’ of Jesus. To live by grace is my ‘ACCEPTANCE’ with God the Father, my ‘UNION’ with Jesus, and the ‘WORK’ of the Holy Spirit in us.

 

Spiritual growth is critical. Call it what you will: “pursuing righteousness” (1 Timothy 6:11), “being transformed” (Romans 12:2), “perfecting holiness” (2 Corinthians 7:1), “pressing toward the goal” (Philippians 3:14), or “being built up in the faith” (Colossians 2:7). The goal is the same for every Christian: to be “transformed into the image of Jesus” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

This process of gradually conforming us to the likeness of Jesus begins at the very moment of our salvation, when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell ‘within’ us and to actually give us a new life ‘in’ Christ.

 

There probably is no other passage of Scripture that suggests more starkly the contrast between living by grace and living by it works then does Romans 7:6: “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” The Apostle Paul intended the contrast between serving in the new way of the Spirit, and the old way of the written code (the “Law”).

 

So, you may ask what are some practical things the believer can do to “grow in grace.” Well, let me lay the ‘foundation’ first.

 

FOUNDATION

Spiritual growth isn’t just a matter of changing what we know or even what we believe. At its heart, it changes ‘who’ we are.

For some, spiritual growth is primarily gathering biblical information. Others see it as some sort of ‘ascetic’ existence (stop ‘doing’ things), or related to self-determination and self-improvement. Even others think that if God wants them to grow, then it’s up to Him to do it for them.

Well, it’s none of those things. I like the definition that Pastor Tony Evans put forth: a “transformational process of increasingly expressing the reality of our relationship with the indwelling life of Christ.” Spiritual growth is a transformational process, and it doesn’t happen at a moment—just like a baby’s growth doesn’t happen in a moment—but it is this process whereby the believer is becoming increasingly like Jesus, because of the ‘guidance’ of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual growth becomes more of Jesus being expressed through less of us! John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

So, spiritual growth looks very similar to physical growth—specifically like a newborn baby: “like newborn babies long for the pure milk of the word that by it you may grow in respect to your salvation.” [ 1 Peter 2:2 ]. Just like a newborn baby has to grow—to expand its life—spiritual growth is a life to be lived, not just a lesson to be learned. Spiritual growth is progressively learning about Jesus. “But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” [ 2 Peter 3:18a ].

Here the Apostle Peter presents us with two concepts: “grace” and “knowledge.” Because growth is about life, and life is connected to relationship (in order for life and growth to occur and to keep occurring), two things have to be in an ongoing increasing supply—and that is grace and knowledge. Not the grace and knowledge of a ‘program’, or a ‘denomination’, but of a ‘Person’, Jesus Christ (God incarnate). “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” [ Matthew 6:33 ]. When you believe in Jesus, God will change you into the person He wants you to be—and that will require changing your ‘inborn’ nature!

Have you ever wondered why you do certain things? Have you ever felt some reactions are automatic? Well, when a person is “born again” (saved, converted, regenerated), by trusting Jesus Christ as their sin bearer, they were affected at the very core of their ‘nature’.

This new nature, or ‘disposition’, becomes necessary in order to address your fundamental problem—sin—however,most people still they try to ‘hide’ from God (just like Adam and Eve tried to do in the Garden).

“If any man is in Christ he becomes a new creation or a new creature, old things have passed away” [ 2 Corinthians 5:17 ]. So, instead of running ‘from’ God, you now are oriented ‘toward’ God. “All things in this new nature belongs to God.” [ 2 Corinthians 5:18 ].

The thing is, our old nature hasn’t ‘given up’, and it ‘competes’ with the new nature. “Seeing His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the true knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and excellence for by these he has granted to us his precious and magnificent promises in order that by them, you might become partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world of my lust” [ 2 Peter 1:3 ].

So, for the believer, everything you need for growth in godliness is already ‘in’ you—you just have to develop it (just like a newborn baby has to).

[ The transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly is also a good analogy for this. Read about the details of this in a previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts post: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/metamorphosis-v170/ ].

 

It’s kind of like popcorn. In every kernel of popcorn there is moisture. When you heat it, it stimulates the moisture, and the moisture becomes steam. It begins to press against the shell. Ten, when the shell can’t take the pressure of the moisture any longer, it “POPS.”

What was once on the inside breaks through and ‘shows up’ on the outside—and you discover something: There was a lot more on the inside than you ever thought! In fact, when popcorn pops, what’s on the inside ‘takes over’ the outside and you can’t even find outside anymore! The growth came from within, so it’s going to be soft and pleasant to eat.

Your spiritual growth is similar to popcorn—the overflow of the indwelling Christ, feeling free enough to express more of Himself ‘through’ you.

Now, God is the ‘agent’ in our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23). He is the one making us holy. But, we must pursue God’s ‘gift’ to us, or as pastor John Piper put it, “When it comes to killing my sin, I don’t wait passively for the miracle of sin-killing to be worked on me, I act the miracle.“

So, we must ‘act’, putting off the old self and putting on the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24), and “put to death” what is earthly in us (Colossians 3:5). We must make every effort into toil and struggle, with all our energy as Jesus powerfully works ‘within’ us (Colossians 1:29). We must also never forget that, according to Jesus, the reward of eternal life goes to those who conquer and overcome (Revelation 2-3).

Author and a staff member of “The Navigators,” Jerry Bridges says that, “God has made it possible for us to walk in holiness. But he has given us the responsibility of doing the walking.” Pastor and author Martyn Lloyd-Jones agreed: “The New Testament calls upon us to take action; it does not tell us that the work of sanctification is going to be done for us.”

God wants us to get up and work (Philippians 2:12-13). Because when it comes to growth and godliness, trusting does not put an end to trying.

 

The grace of God is the most ‘revolutionary’ reality ever!—being snatched from the ‘jaws’ of death, and set free to be what we ought to be.

So, this ‘life-changing’ purpose is just another reason why the believer should be dependent on God: “It is God Himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus” [ Ephesians 2:10a ].

 

The hard truth is that we are are absolutely rotten to the ‘core’, and as we grow in grace, we will become more aware of the ‘evil’ within us—just like John Newton, the writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace” did. [ See last month’s post for more details about Newton:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/amazing-grace-v239/ ].

Toward the end of his life, the Apostle Paul described himself as the “worst of all sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Some think this was false humility, but he was ‘dead’ serious! Paul also commented on why this happens: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” [ Ephesians 6:12 ]. Satan’s lies are directly aimed at our ‘identity’, and are particularly effective if we are not ‘in’ Christ.

 

The more clearly we see our wretchedness, the more clearly we see the righteousness of God. But, when we have a proper understanding of our identity in Christ, and His acceptance of us as believers, this discovery does not ‘bury’ us, but causes us to give humble thanks for the mercy and grace God has bestowed upon us, and deepens our resolve to live dependently upon Him. From that thankfulness, we will grow more to love Him and to know Him more intimately. We then will continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) as we ‘abide’ in Him who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

 

IDENTITY

Your new nature means you have a brand new identity. That reference point of your identity—based on your conversion which provided you a new nature—is the starting point for understanding and experiencing spiritual development and life transformation. “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live” [ Galatians 2:20 ]. This means that the believer is now in “union” with Christ—’coagulated’ with the living Son of God!

 

Now, Satan doesn’t want you to know you’re brand new, because then you might start believing it. If you believe it, you might start acting on it, and if you start acting on it, he will lose his power over you. “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus…For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” [ Romans 6:11,14 ].

 

This new ‘identity’ in Christ, is an essential ‘building block’ for the Christian life. The Bible says that, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” [ 2 Corinthians 5:17 ]. It is important to keep in mind that we are not new creatures because of a change in our ‘behavior’, but because we are ‘IN’ Christ, and Christ is ‘IN’ us! “[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” [ 2 Timothy 1:9 ]. The believer is now a ‘child’ of God and now has total ‘access’ to the “throne of grace.” “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” [ Hebrews 4:16 ]. The believer can have the confidence and freedom to approach God with anything!

[ For more detailed information about a believer’s ‘identity’ in Christ, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/new-identity-v220/ ].

 

So, what difference does being “in Christ” make? Well, formerly, sin was our ‘king’, owner, general, and employer. But no longer. We have been set free. Thus, sin has no further claim on us. We are no longer its ‘citizens’, no longer under its rule or authority—although we continue to feel its influence. We have left one kingdom and have become citizens of another.

Imagine that you have taken citizenship in another country from the land of your birth. Your former king or president demands your loyalty. You are entitled to respond, “You know longer have any legal influence over me.”

Our ultimate addiction to the dominion of sin is broken. Yes, the body will be set free from the presence of sin and made perfect in their final resurrection. But, the body in which the Christian lives is now, by grace, is still fertile soil for the sin, but also fertile soil for holiness. Infertile soil is not impossible soil, so that’s way the Apostle Paul urges the believer to continue to show the greatest of vigilance. (Romans 6:11-14).

 

The Holy Spirit sets us apart ‘in Christ’, so that we might be cleansed by His blood (definitive sanctification), and He works ‘in us’ so that we can be obedient to Jesus (progressive sanctification). Through the Holy Spirit we are given a new ‘position’ and infused with a new ‘power’ (Romans 8:9-13). One of the ways this is done, is that our “inner being” (Ephesians 3:16) has been transformed.

The believer is now in a position to refuse to let sin reign in their mortal body and make them obey it’s evil desires (Romans 6:12). They are able to resist the pressure they still feel from indwelling sin. They now can say: “I know you are there; I feel your influence; I sense your presence. But I am no longer under your authority. Therefore, I am not going to let you reign. By God’s grace, I have been delivered from your dominion, and I am determined to live as one who is under the dominion of my Lord Jesus Christ.”

This is what led the Apostle Paul to say: “Do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourself to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of God to righteousness” (Romans 6:13).

Here, then, is how the believer is to think about themselves:

Who am I?:
– I have been raised into newness of life in Jesus Christ.
– I am no longer under sins domination.

What, then, am I to do with these instruments God has given me?:
– What am I prepared to listen to with my ears?
– What am I going to look at with my eyes?
– What am I going to do with my hands?
– What am I going to say with my tongue?
– What direction will I go with my feet?

Here is the response of the believer, as the hymn by Frances R. Havergal so well says:

“Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose,
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.”

 

HOLY SPIRIT

When one becomes a “born again” believer, the Holy Spirit comes to live ‘in’ them—to “indwell” them. Without the ‘power’ of the Holy Spirit, there can be no spiritual growth. It’s the Holy Spirit’s ‘job’ to enable the new nature to manifest itself in the life of the believer.

A lot of people believe that spiritual growth is something they can do by sheer “willpower” (or in some cases “won’t” power). But, replacing our old nature with our new one isn’t something we can do alone—the Holy Spirit is the indispensable ‘power’ component for the proper working of the parts of the believer’s new nature.

Before leaving this earth, Jesus told His disciples that He was going to ask the Father for “another Helper” (John 14:16). In the Greek, this means “another of the same kind” In other words, God is not going give you a ‘cheap substitute’, but the Holy Spirit has the same ‘essential character’ as Jesus, and that He would be a “Paraclete” (a Greek word meaning “one called alongside to assist”). John goes on to say that He will also “be with you forever”!

The Holy Spirit is kind of like the wind that moves a sailboat forward—He is the “ruach” (Hebrew for “breath”) that enables the believer’s spiritual life to work and to progress. One must ‘abide’ in the Holy Spirit—surrender control and come under His full ‘influence’—and become spiritually ‘inebriated’ with Him (“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” – Ephesians 5:18).

What the Apostle Paul is saying here, literally is: “be continually letting the Spirit of God, who is already in you, fill you.” The Greek verb means “be continually filled” or “be kept filled.” The Greek verb tense is one of continuous action.

Let me clarify precisely what is meant by “being filled.” Some hold to the idea that it is like dumping something into a glass to fill it up. But that’s not a good parallel. Pastor John MacArthur gives a better illustration of it: “A fizzy is a small tablet used to make a soft drink; it’s sort of a flavored Alka-Seltzer. Put it in a war glass of water and its flavor releases throughout the water. This concentrated, compact power pill is no good as long as it sits on the bottom of the glass. It has to release his energy to fill the glass, and then it turns the water into something new. If it is a grape fizzy, you get a glass of grape drink. The flavor of the tablet determines the flavor of the water.”

 

The “filling” of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) is kind of like taking your car to the gas station, where your ‘fill’ you gas tank. But, the moment you leave the station, you are ‘using up’ the gasoline—dissipating your ‘fill up’—and you will have to go back up to fill in the near future.

Similarly, the believer goes to church on Sunday, and gets ‘filled up’ by the sermon the pastor preaches. But, as soon as they walk out the front door, the ‘filling’ starts to dissipate—issues of life, relationships, work—and then Satan starts to ‘work’ on dissipating them. So, one needs to keep ‘drinking’ by reading their Bible and praying to the Holy Spirit for assistance. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” [ Galatians 5:16-17 ].

So, it is paramount that the Christian places their dependency in the Holy Spirit. Because without ‘leaning’ on Him, they can’t make it on their own, and will not experience the kind of spiritual growth that He has the power to increase in them. They will only experience tremendous growth if they give up their pride and stop trying to do the growing by themselves.

It is then necessary to allow the Holy Spirit to continue to ‘fill’ you daily—or even hourly or minute-by-minute—because it is the Holy Spirt that “gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).

 

The Spirit is power, but He is also a ‘light’. He shines into the ‘dark places’ of our hearts and convicts us of sin (John 16:7–11). He is a ‘lamp’ to illuminate God‘s Word (1 Corinthians 2:6-16) and guides us to all truth (John 16:13b). The Spirit throws a ‘spotlight’ on Jesus so that we can see His glory and be changed (John 16:14). The Spirit sanctifies by revealing sin, revealing truth, and revealing the glory of Jesus.

 

This is all sort of a paradox. On one hand, we need the written Word as our objective standard of truth, but on the other hand, we must live in dependence upon the Holy Spirit to open our minds to a spiritual understanding beyond just knowing the concepts presented by the words depicted by ink on paper.

God has clearly commanded the believer to “be filled with the Spirit.” But an unconfessed sin or resistance to His authority will block the “flow” of His life within them. If they do not deal with it, their spiritual lives become stagnant and they lose their usefulness to God.

The amount of ‘power’ you experience to live a victorious, triumphant Christian life is directly proportional to the freedom you give the Spirit to be Lord of your life! The ultimate in spiritual growth can occur only when you’ve been totally ‘absorbed’ in Him!

 

SCRIPTURE

The Bible is God’s final, complete, and authoritative revelation to man. It is the believer’s guide for living life, the standard by which we measure our behavior. When the Bible ‘speaks’, God speaks.

“Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). If you don’t feed a baby properly, it will not develop and mature. The Apostle Peter says that, in terms of spiritual growth, the same thing is true. Just as a baby grows by taking in milk, so a believer grows spiritually by taking in the Word of God (the Bible).

A graphic illustration of this principle comes from Jeremiah 15:16. “Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart.” Jeremiah consumed the Word of God, and it brought him great joy.

The Bible contains truths that are so simple that even the youngest believer can understand them, yet so profound that the most mature believer cannot fully plum their depths.

So, the more we understand the Bible, the more established and ‘built up’ we are. “Therefore as you have receive Jesus Christ the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed” [ Colossians 2:6-7 ].

Growth is basic to usefulness. Babies are wonderful to have around, but they are not much help—taking out the garbage, cutting the grass, or going grocery shopping. Unfortunately, that could also be said of a lot of believers. Their lack of spiritual maturity greatly reduces their usefulness to the cause of Christ. If the believer neglects consistent, serious study of God’s Word, their spiritual growth will be stunted.

Knowing the Bible is also a wonderful ‘weapon’ against sin. The more we come from a biblical ‘foundation’, the stronger we are against sin.

 

The Bible also gives support and insight the believer needs to handle difficult situations—just like how God prepared Joshua for the formidable task that lay before him—the conquest of the Promised Land: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” [ Joshua 1:8-9 ].

 

The Bible will also instruct you on how to behave: “For as a person thinks within himself, so he is.” [ Proverbs 23:7 ]. Filling ones mind with the truth of God’s Word will result in holiness and godly behavior.

 

To plum the depths of the Bible, in-depth study is necessary for spiritual growth. “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night” [ Psalm 1:1-2 ]. A ‘happy’ person—read “Beatitudes” happy—is someone who studies the Bible daily.

 

There’s and old saying that says, “You are what you eat.” Well, that is true physically, as well as spiritually. Just as the parents of a newborn baby try to give them the best food they can so they will develop properly, the Word of God is the primary ‘food’ for a believer’s spiritual growth. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” [ 1 Peter 2:2 ]. If you want to grow, you must ‘eat’!

Unfortunately, these days, many Christians are ‘starving’. Their ‘new nature’ has been so designed that, just like a body demands food in order to satisfy physical hunger, the new nature demands the Word of God in order to satisfy its spiritual hunger.

The problem is that there is not the desire for the ‘pure’ Word, because they are satisfied with milk ‘substitutes’. Don’t be tricked by feel-good sermons or emotional environments. Leave the ‘powdered’ milk alone—just drink the ‘real’ stuff! Hunger for the sincere ‘milk’ of the Word. Desire the true Word more than gold (Psalm 19:10-12).

Now, the ‘milk’ of the Word is for the newborn and ‘developing’ believers. Milk is the foundational biblical truths of the Christian faith. “Meat,” or ‘solid’ food, is for the mature believe—who, because of much practice, has trained their senses to discern good from evil. This is the ability to take the truth that they’ve learned and make the proper decision, from a spiritual perspective.

‘Meat’ is when the foundation of ‘milk’ has been laid so strong that when you walk out of your church, and need to hear from God—to understand the spiritual phenomenon that you’re going through—your ‘inner man’ has been trained to pick up on the heavenly ‘channel’.

The ‘milk’ of the Word is like have ‘basic’ digital TV, getting the signal through the air. It very limited in the amount of channels you can receive (maybe 20-30). However, the “meat” of the Word is like having the ‘ultimate’ cable package available—over 500 channels! The ‘goal’ of spiritual growth is “meat”!

The Bible says that “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” [ 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 ]. The ‘serious’ Christian desires to become spiritually mature and “grow in both the grace and knowledge” of God (2 Peter 3:18).

The goal of the believer is to learn spiritual truth and grow in a relationship with Jesus, and not merely information about Him. When God give the believer a new nature, everything they need to become a spiritual ‘adult’ is built in to their new nature. They just have to ‘exercise’ it!

Just like a body builder, it takes constant work and discipline to develop and ‘sculpt’ their muscles. This is the same for becoming a mature Christian. They have to be disciplined in reading and studying the Word of God. This is the ‘PRIMARY’ way they are going to grow in grace!

The Bible is ‘CENTRAL’ to the believer’s life. It is God’s infallible, inerrant, complete, authoritative, insufficient “love letter” to us. It is our source of truth, happiness, and victory. It is an absolutely essential ‘key’ to growing spiritually mature.

 

FAITH/TRUST

Faith is a ‘conduit’ that connects us to Christ, and is the only ‘mechanism’ that God has provided to ‘link’ us with the supernatural—so that you might grow spiritually.

So then, what is faith? Well, it’s “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is something that connects you to a ‘reality’ that transcends your five senses.

Pastor Tony Evans says they “Faith is acting like it is so, even when it’s not so, in order that it might be so, just because God said so.” The author of the Book of Hebrew said: “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” [ Hebrews 11:6 ].

Faith establishes what you think ‘about’ God. If there is no belief about the veracity or the truthfulness of God, then you will not experience the ‘supernatural’, and your life will be lived in the ‘natural’. Sometimes, the problem is that our feelings get ‘in the way’ of our faith.

You essentially ‘insult’ God when you don’t have faith in Him. You are saying that He is not worthy of your trust.

Now, don’t misunderstand me, feelings are real, and you can’t dismiss the way someone feels. But, just because it’s ‘real’, doesn’t make it right!

Feelings have no ‘intellect’—they respond to what a person believes and what they are thinking. Feelings are like ‘yo-yo’s’—they constantly change. That’s why you can be crying one minute and laughing the next. Feelings change or ‘distract’ you.

Consider how Eve’s feelings about God (told to her by the Devil) overruled what God had ‘told’ her. The job of the Devil is to make the unreal real in your mind—and that’s what he did with Eve. He made that piece of fruit ‘real’ to her, in terms of disregarding what God had said—the single ‘limitation’ God gave her in a Garden among many, many other options. Her feelings were ‘distracted’ from the truth, and she questioned God’s integrity. (This can also happen to every one of us today!)

 

To have faith in God, one must “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). (Just consider what everyone thought about what Noah was doing building and ark when it never rained before). So, faith responds to what God is ‘telling’ the believer (only if they have a ‘tight’ relationship, will they be able to ‘hear’ God’s instructions clearly).

So, faith is to be ‘demonstrated’ not just discussed. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” [ James 2:14 ]. James says that unless you really believing what God has said in His Word, there is no point of acting on them, because you’re really not taking your beliefs seriously.

If you want a balloon to float, you fill it with helium. The balloon is simply an environment through which helium ‘expresses’ itself. God’s desire is to take you higher, but He can only do it if He can ‘fill’ you with Himself (the Holy Spirit). He can’t fill you with Himself unless you trust Him—and you don’t know you trust Him until you’re willing to ‘walk’ (do) by faith instead of just ‘talking’ (not doing) faith.

The Greek work translated “walk” means to “order one’s behavior.” So, if your faith never touches your feet and hands (service to others), James says, “you’re a foolish person” and your “faith apart from works is useless” (James 2:20). Without faith, you will never experience what God want to do ‘through’ you!

 

The Christian life is ‘empowered’ by faith—a attitude of total dependency upon Jesus to be our ‘intercessor’ to the Father, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be our guide, counselor, and encourager—to help us live out our lives here on earth GROWING IN GRACE. It is also our total confidence that God will complete His ‘work’ in us to make us like His Son, Jesus, and that we will be empowered to persevere trials during our lifetime.

 

PRAYER

As we have just seen, God has provided a ‘power source’ for our growth that’s internal—the Holy Spirit. Even though you cannot see Him—just like you don’t see electricity or the wind—you see the ‘affects’ of them, just as you do with the Holy Spirit.

So, how does one ‘connect’ with the Holy Spirit? Well, primarily by prayer (whether that is by reading your Bible or by simply ‘talking’ to Him). Prayer is the ‘point of contact’ for engaging the Holy Spirit in a much deeper and more personal way. Prayer is kind of like your heavenly ‘passport’.

A passport gives you access to a foreign land. Spiritually, that is “the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6). This phrase is translated from the Greek word “epouranios,” meaning “the sphere of spiritual activities.”

Sadly, for many believers, prayer is a ‘ritual’—a job to be done, not a relationship to be cultivated. Prayer is a deeply ‘relational’ method of communication. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” [ Matthew 6:5-6 ]. Matthew goes on to say that we should also not “use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do” (Matthew 6:7).

Some believers say that they don’t know ‘how’ to pray (haven’t learned ‘all the right words’, and haven’t put all the right thoughts together). Well, Matthew continues to say that “your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8), so don’t get all ‘worried’ about the ’right’ things. Just pour out your ‘heart’ to Him, and treat your communication with Him like you treat breathing—make it a constant ‘way of life’. Not an ‘event’.

 

Biblical prayer is ordinarily ‘addressed’ to the Father (“Our Father in Heave, hallowed be your name – Matthew 6:9), in the ‘name’ of the Son (“For there is one God, and there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” – 1 Timothy 2:5), by the ‘enabling’ power of the Holy Spirit (“at all times in the Spirit” – Ephesians 6:18; Jude 1:20).

Prayer is a means of grace that God uses to shape us more and more into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29), and allowing us to “lay all our cares before Him, knowing that He cares for us” (1 Peter 5:7).

Prayer is “the language of creaturely dependence.” Prayer casts anxieties on God (1 Peter 5:7), crying out to God in trouble (Psalm 34:17), and making our needs ‘known’ to God in all our circumstances (Philippians 4:6-7). Prayer is ‘desire’ offered to God.

 

When one finds it difficult to pray, sometimes a ‘model’ can be helpful. The is a prayer in the Bible that does this, and has been called the “Lord’s Prayer.”

When the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray, He said: “Pray then like this:”

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” [ Matthew 6:9-13 ].

The “Lords Prayer” is arguably the most famous prayer in the world, however, it should more accurately be called the “Disciples’ Prayer,” since the prayer asks for forgiveness of sins, and Jesus never sinned. It has been called the “Lords Prayer” because Jesus taught it, not because He prayed it for Himself. [ FYI: See John 17:1-26 for what is generally known as Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” as His intercession for the coming Church ].

The Lord’s Prayer is perfectly balanced. It teaches us to look first to God, then to ourselves. It teaches us to forgive and receive forgiveness, and teaches us to depend wholly upon God for everything.

The Lord did not give us this prayer so that we would memorize it and repeat it as a mindless ritual. Jesus gave us this prayer as a ‘model’ to follow when we pray. There are no rigid ‘rules’, nor is it a religious ‘ritual’. So, just ‘talk’ to God. Tell Him about your gratitude for what He has done for you. Tell Him what you feel. Tell Him your needs, and ask Him to fulfill your ‘heart’s’ desires. Most of all, God just wants to HEAR FROM YOU!

[ See this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” link for more details: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/ready-for-battle-v235/ (in the “Armor Effectiveness” section) ].

You can also pray ‘through’ the Psalms, substituting your concerns for the psalmist’s context-specific requests, which can help with personal and ‘broader’ concerns of family, friends, and the Church.

You can also try a ‘popular’ model that is based on the acronym “A.C.T.S.”—which means Adoration, Confession (of sin), Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

Reformer Martin Luther, in his book “A Simple Way to Pray,” suggested praying the “Lord’s Prayer,” the “Apostles’ Creed,” and the “Ten Commandments.”

So, try them all! “Just Do It!” God is anticipating ‘hearing’ from you!

 

By praying, we give evidence that we have committed ourselves to God, and that we take Him at His Word—that we trust Him, and that even though we can’t always ‘see’ what He is doing, we know He is working out things for good in our lives (Romans 8:28).

Then, after you have said your ‘piece’, listen. If you maintain a ‘teachable spirit’, God will ‘show’ you what He wants you to know at that time—primarily through reading His Word, the Bible. These ‘experiences’ should then progressively deepen your relationship with Him—and increase your appreciation for His compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12). [ Kind of like the ‘fruit of the Spirit’, eh? (FYI: This will be discussed in more detail in next month’s post) ].

Prayer also should be something a believer does ALL THE TIME—this is God’s ‘will’ for you: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” [ 1 Thessalonians 5:17 ]. The believer should see prayer as a loving communication with God, having an attitude of responsiveness, dependency, availability to God EVERY WAKING HOUR, and actively speaking to God whenever your ‘heart’ is moved to do so. “With all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18b).

The word “all“ speaks of the types of prayer available to the believer: It can be either public or private, verbal or silent, deliberately planned, spontaneous, a request from God, or thanking God what He has given. You can be kneeling, standing, sitting, laying down, or even driving. There are many varieties of prayer to fit every situation and circumstance.

 

To pray “at all times” means that we are God conscious—that we see everything that happens to us with reference to God. That is, we live in constant awareness of His presence.

Praying constantly is not just reciting some formula prayer many times over. It has nothing to do with prayer beads, repetitious prayers, or any kind of structured, ritual praying. Praying without ceasing means seeing things from God’s viewpoint, and living in unbroken ‘communion’ with Him.

The proper attitude of prayer is “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition” (Ephesians 6:18). When you pray for something, stay with it until you have an answer (like the man in Luke 11:5-8, who kept banging on the door of his neighbor until he opened it up to give him bread for his unexpected guests). God tells us that we are to be incessant, persevering, and vigilant in prayer.

The Apostle Paul also speaks about the “objects” of prayer. “Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

However, a ‘condition’ determines the Lords response to prayer—prayer must be “in my name.” But, simply tacking on the phrase to an end of a prayer is not what He is saying here. Praying in Jesus‘s name means “standing in His place“, fully identifying with Him, asking God for intervention by Jesus’ virtue. It is as if Jesus where the petitioner to God. We are desiring something for His sake. Something for His glory.

So, the pattern of prayer for the believer is to be primarily concerned with the spiritual dimension. The Apostle Paul’s prayers were always in line with spiritual objectives; physical ones were never an issue to him.

 

So, learn to pray as the Apostle Paul instructs us to do, and you will find yourself becoming much more God conscious and much less self focused. As you humble yourself, spend time with the Holy Spirit, and pray under His supervision, you will find your life being molded into the very image of Jesus.

If Jesus, the Son of God, needed to go to His Father in prayer for strengthening and guidance, how much more do we need to? (Psalm 32:6).

 

OBEDIENCE

The word obedience can cause consternation for a number of reasons. First off, one reason might be that you really don’t want to. Another, more ‘faithful’ reason might be that I really do want to—and I might have even tried—but it simply doesn’t work.

You leave church all ‘excited’ about what you heard, know what you need to do, but something goes ‘wrong’ when you walk out the front door, and you seem unable to obey.

Well, many believers look at obedience to God from the position of a somebody with a whip over you saying “you’d better do it or else!” You are ‘MADE TO’ obey (like the Egyptians did to the Israelites in Moses’ time). Or, because you think God might ‘zap’ you!

Other people obey because they ‘NEED TO’. Maybe your boss says so and you really need your job—so you ‘obey’. It’s in your best interest to obey.

Sadly, many ‘church-goers’ have been brought up that I’m ‘SUPPOSED TO DO’—simply out of responsibility, a religious ‘duty’, or to put it another way, most of us obey out of ‘law’ rather than obey out of ‘grace’. Obedience that grits one’s teeth and does the right thing is not ‘true’ obedience. That’s ‘compliance’.

But none of those represent the best motivation for obedience. The kind of obedience I’ve got to believe you want is because you ‘WANT TO’. You see, the more you want to do it, the more you will do it! True obedience is joyfully doing what you really want to do. It should be ‘pleasurable’.

“By this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). The word “keep in” in that verse carries the idea of watchful, observant obedience. It is not speaking of an obedience in response to force or pressure.

 

Again, as it was said before, God has placed, inside the believer, a brand new heart or disposition that is made up of a whole new set of inclinations—they already have everything they need ‘inside’ to be all God intends them to be! A new nature within you that already ‘desires’ to do what God wants.

So, with that new ‘nature’ God says that your ‘built-in’ obedience is connected to love: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my Word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” [ John 14:23-26 ].

This says that it’s all about love, and if your love is lacking, you ‘won’t be’ or will ‘force’ yourself to be obedient. Sooner or later, if it’s only compliance, you will get tired of it and either it won’t last or you will be miserable every moment that it does last. You see, what you’ve done is replaced grace with the law, and you’ve replaced love with rules—and you won’t enjoy the rules because you don’t experience the love.

However, if your love is vibrant, you will ‘want to’ be obedient. The willingness is because of the ‘relationship’! The closer you are to Jesus, the easier it is to be obedient. “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” [ James 1:25 ]. Your new nature has already been ‘programmed’ to making the right response!

 

There is an inseparable relationship between obedience and faith—like two sides of a coin. It is impossible to detach one from the other (though today many are trying very hard to devise a doctrine of “faith” that is disjointed from obedience).

 

If we have a spirit of obedience toward the safeguarding of the precepts of Jesus, we will have an all-consuming desire that they be honored, and a determination to obey them, which constitutes proof that we have come to the knowledge of God in the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

So, how can you identify a Christian because of their obedience? Buy a pattern that you can trace. “The one who says he abides in him what himself to walk in the same manner as he walked.” [ 1 John 2:6 ]. The word “abides” translates as “knowing him,” “walking in the light,” or “being in fellowship with.” It means walking in the same manner as Jesus walked. Obedience moves us toward Christlikeness.

 

Sunflowers follow the sun, and that’s why they are always growing. The sunflower plant contains hormones called auxins that stimulate the growth of cells. They are constantly ‘looking’ to maximize photosynthesis, so they can grow more.

Well, the Christian should always be looking to the “SON” (Jesus) to maximize our growth spiritually. The believer must be obedient to see continual transformation and growth in their life.

 

SIN

Like fatty tissue that clogs our arteries, sin ‘clogs’ the free flow of grace which produces maximum spiritual development.

Now I’m NOT talking about the issue of our ‘legal’ relationship with God—that Jesus Christ ‘paid’ for our sins and we receive forgiveness with God the Father [ Note: If you have not yet repented and ‘believed’ in Jesus, you are still legally guilty in the ‘courtroom’ of God for all of your sins, are guilty as charged, and are headed to Hell when you die—and no amount of ‘works’ is acceptable to God for payment ].

I AM talking about how our brand-new ‘identity’ expands and begins to dominate. “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God” [ 1 John 3:9 ].

Now, all believers will continue to sin while they are on this earth. The word “seed” here is referring to God—He is perfect and doesn’t sin, but that the believer has this ‘seed’ in their new nature that can be ‘cultivated’ to grow—and the more they do, the LESS they will ‘want’ to sin (and by using the “Armor of God,” they will be successful in not sinning more often).

[For more details on the “armor of God,” view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts post: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/ready-for-battle-v235/ ].

 

The more a believer grows spiritually, the more the Holy Spirit dominates their ‘flesh’ (human desires), rather than the flesh dominating their spirit. “No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him” [ 1 John 3:6 ]. So, if the believer “walks in the light” of God’s fellowship, they will be constantly increasing their awareness of their sins, and in turn, sinning less.

 

The one who covers their sin in their life is going to have it uncovered in the next life, and whoever exposes it to God in this life shall never have it exposed again in the life to come! Jesus said, “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops” [ Luke 12:2-3 ].

A day is coming in which there will be absolutely no secrets, and God will judge all sin that has been covered up—all sin will be revealed. But, the sin that is exposed in this life and cleansed by the blood of Jesus need never be exposed again. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” [ 1 John 1:9 ]. That which has been cleansed and forgiven will not be brought against us!

That’s one of the marvelous promises of Scripture that believers can claim. When we get to Heaven, God will not show us our sins. He has removed them “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12)—never to be remembered.

Moreover, Christians who try to cover individual sins face exposure and loss of reward (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

God judges sin so sternly because He is utterly holy. All sin is a personal offense against Him. Everyone who sins directly defies God. King David acknowledged this when he said, “Against You, You only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in your sight” [ Psalm 51:4 ].

 

I’ve got to believer we’ve all played “Hide-and-Seek” when we were growing up, and the goal was to stay in the ‘darkness’ so you would not be found—to cover up and be by yourself, so that somebody in the ‘light’ couldn’t find you.

Similarly, God says don’t play ‘hide-and-seek’ with Him—walk in the ‘light’ of His presence, and be cleansed from your sin. The ‘blood’ of Jesus legally forgave you when you accepted Him as Savior—and your heavenly destiny is secured forever. But, your earthly intimacy with Him can be interrupted by sin.

Light ‘exposes’ things. There are a lot of everyday materials that ‘fluoresce’ and are ‘exposed’ when placed under a black light. A black light gives off highly energetic ultraviolet light. You can’t see this part of the spectrum (UV), but when a UV light wave hits an object containing substances known as phosphors, those phosphors will naturally fluoresce, and glow. They will be exposed.

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible–and everything that is illuminated becomes a light” [ Ephesians 5:13 ]. So, when the Holy Spirit ‘exposes’ a certain sin to the believer, they are then supposed to confess that sin.

The Greek word that is translated “confess” means “to say the same thing.” That is, we are to see our sin as God ‘sees’ it—‘darkness’. But, because God IS grace, and is trying to teach us to grow more in grace, He forgives those who sincerely repent of their sins: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” [ 1 John 1:9 ].

Spiritual growth is ‘blocked’ by unconfessed sin, so continually allow God to use His heavenly “Handi Wipes” on your sins (the blood of Jesus), to maintain fellowship with Him, so that He will continue to grow you in grace!

 

REPENTANCE

Confession constitutes one of the essential ‘keys’ to spiritual growth.

Christians today face the same dilemma that King David faced: if we try to cover up our sins—like David attempted to do with his adultery and murder, for entire year —we grieve the Holy Spirit. Confession is the only solution, but requires that we abandon our pride—and we have all fight this battle!

When we try to cover up our sins we will forfeit God’s blessings on our lives. “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper” (Proverbs 28:13). There are very real and practical consequences to all this.

Physical illness may be another result of covering up. King David testified, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” [ Psalm 32:3 ].

 

So, the primary feature of confession is agreeing with God that we are helplessly guilty. In fact, the Greek word for confession is “homologeo,” which literally means “to say the same thing.” When we confess our sin, we must agree with God about our sin. That is, we must see our sin as He sees it: “Lord, I have sinned. I agree with your appraisal of me.” If you could see the depths of your sin from the bottom of your heart and that just wants, the way God sees it—your life would never be the same again!

True confession also involves repentance—turning away from the evil thought or action. You have not honestly confessed your sins until you have ‘turned’ from them. Real confession includes a brokenness this that inevitably leads to changes in behavior.

 

When a believer sins, they lose a certain intimacy and a sense of nearness with God. Something does go awry. Scripture speaks of it as lost joy rather than lost fellowship (nor does a believer lose their salvation over it!).

So then, what is the fastest way to regain the joy of your salvation? Do what King David did—confess your sins. He prayed, “Restore me to the joy of your salvation” [ Psalm 51:12 ]. God will then return His joy to you!

 

One indisputable mark of spiritual maturity is the decreasing frequency of sin. We DO NOT have to sin. We CAN conquer sin! “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” [ Romans 6:14 ]. Sin has no more power over believers who are in Christ. The Bible says we can ‘mortify’ sin, or said in a more up-to-date way, “put it to death” (“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” – Romans 8:13). Christians can certainly ‘win’ over sin. However, unbelievers cannot!

The Apostle Paul said, “become sober minded as you art, and stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34). You cannot conquer in your flesh, but the Holy Spirit working in you can! “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to wall man, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).

“If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” [ 1 John 2:1-2 ]. John is saying, in effect, if we do sin, we have someone to ‘cover’ for us. However, he is not speaking of habitual disobedience or sin as a course of life, but an ‘individual’ sin at that interrupts our walk of faith. When we do commit such an act, if we sincerely repent of it, it is cleansed. No matter how deep your guilt, no matter how frequent your failure, come to Jesus in contrite confession and let him advocate for you in front of the Father.

 

Now, whenever we do sin, Satan instantly accuses us, “Look at him, God. That child of yours sinned.” The Devil is like a prosecuting attorney.

However, Jesus, our ‘Advocate’, kind of like a defense attorney, and He says, “It is taken care of, Father. I paid their penalty.” So, Satan is foiled. “Who will bring a charge against God‘s elect?” (Romans 8:33).

 

One of the most thrilling scenes in English literature comes at the conclusion of the “Mutiny on the Bounty.” Some seamen are being court-martialed before the Royal Navy. These men are on trial for mutiny, facing the possibility of death by hanging. Roger Byam, a young sailor, is one of those on trial. Because he is a person of loyalty and integrity, Byam is granted a pardon by the king. Though judged guilty, he is acquitted and restored to rank, and the record of his crime is forever expunged.

That is what king David asked for, and received—forgiveness for his repentance—and that is what every believer receives ‘in’ Christ!

God is forgiving, and in response and thanks, the believer must confess their sins to Him, turning from them, lest they ‘stamp on’ His grace!

 

TRIALS/TEMPTATION

The ‘battle’ for spiritual growth has to deal with temptation—and it comes from three different dangerous ‘sources’: the Devil, the ‘world’, and the ‘flesh’ (Ephesians 2:2-3).

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” [ James 1:13-15 ].

The Bible says that God will definitely ‘lead’ a believer into a trial in order to test and develop them (the same Greek word for “trial” is also translated “temptation”). A trial is something created or allowed by God to produce spiritual maturity, spiritual development, and spiritual growth. A temptation, however, is a solicitation to evil or enticement to evil—it’s an invitation to disobey or rebel against God in order to stifle our spiritual life, interrupt our spiritual growth, and limit our capacity to bring greater glory to God.

A trial is designed to ‘develop’ you, a temptation is designed to ‘defeat’ you. But, here’s the key: the same event can be both! An event that is a trial can also be used as a temptation. Are you kidding me!!!

When Adam and Eve were in the Garden, God put a tree in the center of it and said, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” [ Genesis 2:17b ]. That was their trial. However, THE DEVIL came along and turned it into their temptation.

God also told Satan he could go and test Job. God sent it as a trial. Satan sought to use it as a temptation. God wants to use tests to develop you, and Satan wants to use temptations to defeat you—and therefore ‘stifle’ your spiritual growth.

So, James wants the Christian to know that, when you are tempted to do evil, that is not done by God. A believer can say, “God, why are you trying me.” They cannot ever say, “God why are you tempting me.” The trial God will ‘own’. The invitation to do wrong does not ‘belong’ to Him.

Temptation starts simply because of our ‘desires’, and they can be either legitimate or illegitimate for the same thing. However, the problem is sometimes we try to use a legitimate thing in an illegitimate way!

Desire is then mixed with deception—i.e. Satan with Eve—and you are ‘enticed’. An illustration of this is the fisherman putting a worm on his hook, and throwing it into the water to entice a fish to bit it. The worm also hides the hook from the fish (deception). [ Remember “Hide-and-Seek”? ]. All this so that the fisherman can have lunch!

So then, desire based on deception, leads to disobedience—it gives ‘birth’ to sin. It is not sin to be tempted, it only becomes sin when you ‘act’ on it! The fact that it ‘shows up’ is not sin. Your response to it makes it sin, or keeps it from becoming a sin!

So, don’t be discouraged when you are tempted—Jesus was tempted. But, when you are deceived and it leads to disobedience, then the ‘baby’ that comes out of that leads to “death.” Not ‘physical’ death, but spiritual ‘death’ (loss of fellowship with God).

That’s why confession of sin is so important. When you break fellowship with God, you have to ‘re-enter’ fellowship through confession of sin.

In addition to this, sin’s advertised ‘price’ is always lower than its actual ‘cost’, and sin never ends with one sin. Sin always ends up giving ‘birth’ to even more egregious and sometimes ‘blasphemous’ sins!

 

John Bunyan‘s masterpiece, “The Pilgrims Progress,” gives a vivid description of this very thing: “One thing that I would not let slip. I took notice that now poor Christian was so confounded that he did not know his own voice.”

What does “he did not know his own voice” mean? Bunyan explains:

“One of the wicked ones got behind him, and stepped up softly to him, and whispering only suggested many grievous blasphemies to him, which he verily thought had proceeded from his own mind. This put Christian more to it than anything he met with before, even to think he should now blaspheme him that he loves so much before; yet could he have helped it, he would not have done it. But he had not the discretion neither to stop his ears nor to know from whence these last of me’s came.”

Blasphemies? In the mind of a Christian? Yes, indeed. The description in Bunyan’s allegory parallels his personal testimony in his autobiography—grace abounding to the “chief of sinners.” For a whole year, Bunyan had heard the Gospel, but his mind was ‘flooded’ with blasphemy. Yes, blasphemies. Those are the lengths to which Satan will go.

Where does this come from? Well, it comes from the ‘pit’ of hell! Bunyan’s poor Pilgrim did not know at first about Satan’s “fiery darts.” He thought it all came from himself, and that therefore he could not possibly be a Christian. Another ‘deception’ of Satan!

Many Christian believers who have experience this have no idea where it comes from. They share the Pilgrim’s conclusion: “I must be damned to hell if there is such blasphemy in my mind against Jesus.”

The Pilgrim was unable to discern the difference between the impressions that were being made on his mind by external spiritual forces, and the permanent desire of the new heart that had been given to him to live for and to love Jesus. But, the truth was that “one of the wicked ones got behind him, and stepped up softly to him, and whisperingly suggested many grievous blasphemies to him, which he verily a thought and proceeded from his own mind.” Believers must ALWAYS be ‘on guard’ for Satan’s treachery!

 

As was mentioned previously, God will allow a temptation to come upon you, because He’s already determined that it’s something you can handle and resist. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” [ 1 Corinthians 10:13 ]. But maybe, in the ‘middle’ of a temptation, you aren’t feeling so strong, or don’t think you can handle it. Well, Paul continues with a ‘suggestion’: “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” [ 1 Corinthians 10:14 ]. ‘FLEE’ from the temptation! (i.e. Joseph fleeing his boss’ lustful wife’s seduction).

God will always provide an ‘exit’, or a way of escape from the temptation. You may say, “I took the ‘exit’ and the temptation still is not gone.” (Well, you still might be on the ‘off ramp’!) The exit sign doesn’t necessarily mean that you will instantaneously be ‘transported’ out of the temptation; it just means that God is not done testing you—but He promised to be there with you until it is over.

 

The second type of temptation is the ‘WORLD’—Satan’s ‘system’ to expunge God spiritually out of the lives of humans—and he uses many ‘methods’ to achieve it. One idea put forth to classify the ‘primary’ ones is called the “Seven Deadly Sins.” They are: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride (they are contrary to the “Seven Virtues”: chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility).

Satan loves for people to go to church on Sunday, as long as they leave God out on Monday and as long as they don’t make God a daily ‘habit’, and keep spirituality as a weekly ‘event’—then you’re his favorite “Christian.” He knows that he doesn’t have to ‘worry’ about you trying to spread the Gospel message. That is called “worldliness.”

 

Thirdly, there is what is termed the ‘FLESH’—essentially our inbred self-centeredness. The ‘flesh’ is that part of you that craves to be satisfied independently of God—something Satan uses to take your ‘eyes’ off God.

The Apostle Paul said, “but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” [ Romans 7:23 ]. This is the battle required of every Christian to live out their righteousness. (“I got stuff that I know I shouldn’t do that I know deep down I don’t want to do, but I do anyway”). “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” [ Romans 7:19-20 ].

Have you ever felt that? If you haven’t felt that you are ’fighting’ desires, then you’re probably not a Christian! Satan isn’t ‘messing’ with you, because you are not his ‘opponent’!

Know this: just when you have made your commitment to Jesus—repenting of your sins and believing ‘in’ Him—and as soon as you ‘turn around’ from your sinful lifestyle, Satan’s opposition will show up—because he has studied your ‘game film’.

 

Now, you’ve got three ‘enemies’: an evil person (the Devil); an evil system (the ‘world’); and evil desires (the ‘flesh’) that are soliciting you. So, let’s look at the ‘cure’.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” [ Ephesians 6:10-12 ].

The Bible calls this the “Armor of God”—what the believer needs to ‘put on’ to defeat the Devil, the ‘world’, and his ‘flesh’.

These six pieces of ‘armor’ are not six things, they describe just one thing—protection. Here’s a summary of it:

Put on the “belt of truth” (“I am the way the truth and the life no man comes to the Father but by me” – John 16:6). Put on the” breastplate of righteousness” (“He is our righteousness” – 1 Corinthians 1:30). Put on the “shoes of peace” (“in Him we have peace” – Romans 5:1). Pick up the “shield of faith” (“Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith” – Hebrews 12:2). Put on the “helmet of salvation” (“He is the captain of our salvation” – Hebrew 2:10). And finally, pick up the “sword of the Spirit” (“He is the Word of God” – John 1:1).

[ For much more detail on the “Armor of God,”, read this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/ready-for-battle-v235/ ].

 

All this to say that when temptation gets tough, the believer is to ‘endure’! “For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted” [ Hebrews 2:18 ].

So, when we are tempted to cheat on a ‘life test’, Jesus says, “I understand. I was tempted, too!” He totally understands because He lived on the earth as a human and endured the same types of troubles we face. “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” [ Isaiah 53:3 ].

The thing is, Jesus promises to go through it with you until it is over, and then ‘reward’ you!: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” [ James 1:12 ]. WOO-HOO!!!

 

Grace has made the believer who they now are—energized to accomplish what God wants to become—strong, persevering through sufferings. John Newton’s lines from his hymn, “Amazing Grace,” might give us some insight here: “Through many dangers, tolls, and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.” The Apostle Paul also said that grace strengthened him and made him “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” [ 2 Corinthians 12:10-12 ].

Sometimes when there are persecutions, some believers have a tendency to ‘give up’ their faith, wondering if they should continue their ‘journey’ (as did Christian many times during his journey to the “Celestial City”). But, God’s grace will strengthen the believer and ‘awaken’ a courage in them to stand firm and not compromise their faith.

 

[ For more details on defeating the Devil, the ‘world’, and the ‘flesh’, read this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/continued-transformation-v236/ ].

[ For more details on what the Bible says about “tests” and “trials,” read this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/the-purpose-of-tests-v213/ ].

 

DISCERNMENT

There are three ‘guidelines’ for the discerning Christian: “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” [ 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 ]. These are some of the basic truths of godly living, and a vital ‘key’ to spiritual maturity.

 

To “examine everything” carefully is a call to careful judgment. We are to judge between truth and error, right and wrong, and good and evil.

Jesus said, “judge with righteous judgment” [ John 7:24b ]. Clearly, He requires the believer to exercise discernment, distinguishing between truth and error. Now, we must never be unloving, but we cannot approve false teaching. To be tolerant of false teaching and error is to dishonor God.

So then, what ‘measuring stick’ can we use to judge between truth and error? Well, of course, the Word of God. Paul was very explicit about this in his instructions to his protogé Timothy:

“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain” [ 1 Timothy 6:3-5 ].

There is no accurate gauge of truth besides God‘s Word, and we must diligently examine everything by it. “I abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” [ Romans 12:9 ].

 

To “hold fast to that which is good” is also one of the essential marks of a true believer. “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not for seeking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” [ Hebrews 10:23-25 ].

 

The Apostle Paul then calls us to discernment by “abstaining from every form of evil.” We can refute false teaching far more effectively by becoming truth experts. Truth is more powerful opponent of error, and good is the most effective adversary of evil. Paul hinted at this when he wrote, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” [ Romans 12:21 ].

When a FBI agent is trained to recognize counterfeit money, they do so by having them study the genuine article. Prospective agents spent months learning the details of how real money is engraved. Only by being intimately familiar with authentic bills can they immediately recognize the counterfeits.

So it is in the spiritual realm, too. Knowing and proclaiming the truth is the best way to refute error [ See the previous section on Scripture! ].

So, how important is discernment? Well, ultimately it is the ‘definitive’ mark of spiritual maturity: “Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” [ Hebrews 5:14 ]. As you pursue spiritual growth, Let the Word of God control your heart and mind, and ask God to train your senses to be discerning.

 

HOPE

Hope is a crucial aspect of spiritual maturity. The very word itself shines like a bright light in the darkness, it is joy within sorrow, and it is life after death.

Sadly, however, many people are ‘playing’ to false hopes—like maintaining a “vain hope in gold or silver” (1 Peter 1:18). The Bible says that without Jesus, hope is groundless. “For what is the hope of the godless… When God requires his life?” (Job 27:8). The Bible also says that the entire pagan world is “without hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:12).

But, as far as believers are concerned, “in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?” (Romans 8:24). This verse suggest that many elements of our salvation await some future fulfillment.

The Bible says our hope is to be in God, and in God alone. “Why are you in despair, all my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.” [ Psalm 43:5 ].

The Bible also tells us that hope is a gracious ‘gift’ from God: “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our father…Has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope through grace” [ 2 Thessalonians 2:16 ]. God grants to man hope, confidence, assurance, and insecurity for the future—if we except His ‘gift’ (His Son, Jesus).

The Bible says that hope comes ‘through’ the Scriptures: “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance in the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” [ Romans 15:4 ].

Hope is further ‘confirmed’ in us by the Holy Spirit. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” [ Romans 15:13 ].

Hope is also to be ‘continual’: “As for me, I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more” [ Psalm 71:14 ].

Hope also produces ‘joy’: “How blessed is he who is help is in the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God” [ Psalm 146:5 ].

Furthermore, hope removes the fear of death. Believers know that God has a future for them. They know that He has a promise for them. They know that they have hope for the future because Jesus ‘lives’ in them right now!

We are also told that our hope is ‘secure’. Nothing need ever take away our confidence or steal away our hope. Hebrews 6:17-18 says that our strong consolation in the hope that before us rest and to immutable things—the fact of God’s promise and the fact of God’s oath. In other words, our hope is secure because God made a promise and ‘underscored’ it with an oath.

 

To summarize, here’s some of the aspects of the believer’s hope:
– Our hope is guaranteed by abiding (John 3:31)
– Our hope is realized in righteousness (1 John 2:29)
– Our hope is established by love (1 John 3:1)
– Our hope is for filled in Christ’s likeness (Romans 8:29)
– Our citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3: 20-21)
– Our hope is characterized by purity (1 John 3:3)

 

These are what a believer’s ‘assurance’ should do for them! Through our hope in Jesus, we can remain steadfast, trusting God through the present (and future) difficulties and pains, because we KNOW THE ‘OUTCOME’!

 

When you are tempted to drop out of the ‘race’ of faith, hold tight to your hope and think of pastor John MacArthur’s encouraging words:

“O to be like Thee, dear Jesus, my plea.
Just to know Thou art formed fully in me.
On with Thy beauty, Lord, off with my sin.
Fixed on Thy glory, Thy likeness to win.

Oh to be like Thee, Thine image display.
This is the Spirit’s work day after day.
Glory to glory, transformed by His grace,
Till in Thy presence I stand face to face.

Oh to be like Thee, Thou lover of men,
Gracious and gentle, compassionate friend.
Merciful Savior such kindness and care
Are only mine when Thy likeness I share.

To be like Thee, Jesus, to be like Thee, Jesus,
For this I live, to this I’ll die,
It is my hope, my prayer, my cry.”

 

Now, the message of a ‘secure’ hope is not a ‘license’ to sin for the ‘true’ believer, but the fuel for an inner ‘fire’—a deep hunger to be everything God wants them to be! It helps the believer to ‘hang in there’ over the long haul, “as we received mercy, we do not lose heart” [ 2 Corinthians 4:1b ].

[ For more information about a ‘license’ to sin, see this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts post: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/amazing-grace-v239/ ].

 

LOVE

Christ’s love compels us to live no longer for ourselves but for Him—our Savior.

We are to make His will the rule of our lives and His glory the goal for which we live. But, what is the wellspring of this commitment? What motivating principle will cause a person to live no longer for himself but for God?

The Apostle Paul said that the love of Christ compels us to make this kind of commitment, and to carry it out day by day.

Charles Hodge wrote that the love of Christ “coerces or presses, and therefore impulse. It is the governing influence which controls the life.” It is not a fear of consequences or expectation of reward that motivates the Apostle Paul. Rather, the love of Christ that was manifested by dying for Paul was the driving force of his life. “For the love of Christ continuously constrains me.” [ 2 Corinthians 5:14 ].

Paul tells us to be compelled by His love and to seek to put away our sins (Romans 8:13). “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” [ 2 Corinthians 7:1 ].

Reverence is a sense of profound path, respect, and devotion. It is the recognition of God’s intrinsic worthiness, the infinite majesty of His being, and the infinite perfection of His character. God is worthy of my loving obedience because of who He is, not because of what He does for me.

How then can we develop this love for God, so that our obedience is prompted by love instead of some lesser motive?

Well, to love God, we must believe that He is ‘for’ us, not ‘against’ us (Romans 8:31), and that He accepts us as a son or daughter, not a ‘slave’ (Galatians 4:7). We cannot love God if we think we are under His judgment or condemnation.

Our love should be spontaneous outpouring of gratitude to God, and a fervent desire to obey Him.

Those who have been forgiven much love much (Luke 7:44-47). Therefore, we can say that the extent to which we realize and acknowledge our own sinfulness, and the extent to which we realize the total forgiveness and cleansing from our sins, will determine the measure of our love to God.

 

MATURITY

The goal of a spiritual ‘birth’ (being “born again” – John 3:5) is spiritual maturity—growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

As parents of a new-born baby, they have just started helping the little one grow and develop, but their goal is ‘adulthood’. Similarly, God’s goal is not necessarily your ‘conversion’, but mature ‘adulthood’ in the faith—an intimate and consistent ‘experience’ with Him—and to be “conformed to the image of His Son” Jesus (Romans 8:29). It is called “Christlikeness.”

Maturity is not achieved just because you’ve been a Christian long time or that you go to church consistently. Maturity is achieved because you look at life and live it from the vantage point of the Spirit of God. Your maturity will be measured or realized in the small day-to-day changes in your life. Yep, no ‘instantaneous’ maturation. Phooey!

The thing is, people who live under the ‘Law’ have to be ‘made’ to do it. However, people who live life under ‘grace’ do it because they ‘want’ to do it. Growth is not merely performing religious duties and carrying out religious obligations to satisfy religious demands. In fact, all of those could impede one’s growth in experiencing God. Maturity has produced a level of growth that is generating a ‘heart’ that beats to experience God on the deepest possible level.

The entire book of First John was written to instruct Christians about how to maximize their experience with God—so that their joy is complete (John 15:11).

 

So, after ALL these things I’ve discussed, HOW does one become a mature Christian? Well, first off, it’s not what the pastor just said in the sermon on Sunday morning. It’s now what the Lord has ‘spoken’ to your heart (Because all you need is someone else that preaches a non-biblical sermon, and you will then be confused).

 

One of the great truths of the Christian faith is that “there is therefore no longer any condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” [ Romans 8:1 ]. You may condemn yourself or other people may condemn you, but God has “placed your sins as far as the east is from the west” [ Psalm 103:12 ]. God has also ‘united’ your spirit with His Spirit.

God has even given you the Holy Spirit to ‘indwell’ you, so He can help you grow from a spiritual ‘infant’ (“milk” of the Word) to adulthood (“meat” of the Word)—so you can later ‘feed’ yourself and learn how to overcome evil.

To accomplish all of this, God will use trials to make you strong and faithful, and develop a ‘union’ with Jesus at the highest possible level so you can experience God relationally—not merely on an ‘academic’ basis.

The mature believer has developed spiritual ‘discernment’—the deepest spiritual knowledge. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him. These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” [ 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ].

Spiritual maturity is not going to church or being involved in religious activities, though they are important. It is developing a love ‘affair’ with God—intimate and relational.

The paradox in all this is that God doesn’t usually let you ‘see’ your spiritual progress in ‘real-time’. It’s more like “20/20 vision”—seeing something finished after the fact—since it wouldn’t take any ‘faith’ on our part if we were shown everything all the time. It is “impossible to please God without faith” (Hebrews 11:6).

In addition to that, you would never be able to figure this out on your own. In fact, we would make a ‘hot mess’ of it all! “For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” [ 1 Corinthians 2:11-12 ].

The Apostle Paul continues by saying that all this doesn’t make any sense to the “unsaved man.” It doesn’t even make any sense for them to just discuss it! They do not have the spiritual ‘abilities’ to pick up God’s ‘signal’. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” [ 1 Corinthians 2:14 ].

However, the believer has the appropriate ‘receiver’ to pick up God’s divine signal: “The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” [ 1 Corinthians 2:15-16 ].

The believer also has the “mind of Christ,” that will instruct them to grow spiritually mature. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” [ John 10:27 ]. Only those who have matured over time and grown so that they learn to hear His ‘voice’.

 

When a believer gets to the point where God is “all they HAVE,” they will discover that God is “all they NEED”! That might sound cliché, so let me explain myself a bit.

God says that He is “your sufficiency” (2 Corinthians 3:5). He promises to take care of your ‘needs’ here on earth, and “make a place for you in Heaven” (John 14:3) after you have left this earth.

Many people wonder why it’s better for them to show up for church in person as opposed to just watching a sermon on TV or tuning in on the radio. Well, the church was not created solely to provide you with sermons, but also to provide you with a ‘family’. Your spiritual growth can become hindered when you find yourself operating apart from the family of God.

So, although the Bible ‘commands’ that a believer “not neglect to meet together” (be a ‘member’ of a church – Hebrews 10:25a) and “encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25b), and to get “sound teaching” for themselves (2 Timothy 4:2-3), the church can’t make you ‘grow’ spiritually. All it can be is a ‘greenhouse’, and provide a good environment for you to grow in. You have to ‘DECIDE’ you want to grow!

It’s up to the believer—with, of course, the encouragement and counsel of the Holy Spirit—to learn the Word and want to ‘know’ God intimately!

 

HOW TO BECOME CHRISTLIKE

Christlikeness is not merely imitating Jesus’ example. It’s only by knowing our ‘position’ in Him can a believer begin to live like Him. The theological term for being ‘in’ Jesus is “union with Christ.“

The whole of a believer’s salvation can be summed up with reference to this reality: union with Christ. It is not a single specific blessing we received in our salvation, rather it is the best phrase to describe all the blessings of salvation, whether in eternity past (election), in history (redemption), in the present (effectual calling, justification, and sanctification), or in the future (glorification).

Every blessing is received in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Every blessing in the order of salvation flows from our union with Christ. As theologian John Murray said, “Union with Christ is really the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation not only in its application but also in its once-for-all accomplishment in the finished work of Christ.”

It is only when the Holy Spirit ‘joins’ us to Christ and we are in grafted into His ‘body’, that we can participate, not only in Christ’s benefits, but in Christ Himself. That’s why Jesus’ final request in His “high priestly prayer” was that He “may be in them” (John 17:26b), and why Paul says, “Christ in you is the hope of glory” [ Colossians 1:27 ].

Union with Christ is kind of like a building, where the believer is the house, and Jesus dwells within it.

Becoming like Jesus means growing in His virtues and His qualities.

[ For a unique look at the attitudes and character of Jesus, vista the “Fruits Of The Beatitudes” web site I developed. It ‘links’ the “Beatitudes” and the “fruit of the Spirit”: http://fruitsofthebeatitudes.org/ ].

 

Growing in grace is not ultimately about living up to a moral standard—although important—it’s about living ‘in’ Christ and living out our real, vital ‘UNION’ with Jesus.

 

Just as Jesus did on earth (“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” – John 6:38), God administers His grace to those who submit to His providential working in our lives (“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” [ 1 Peter 5:5b ].

The thing is, our ‘normal’ tendency is not to humble ourselves (to anyone), but to resist the working of God’s mighty ‘hand’ (Usually we say, “Ouch, that hurts!”)

God arranges and orchestrates circumstances to first produce grace in the believer before He produces ‘happiness’ in them. He is more concerned about our eternal then our temporal welfare, and more concerned about our spiritual than our material welfare. So, all the trials and difficulties, all the heart aches, disappointments, and humiliation come from His loving ‘hand’ to make us “partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10c).

John Newton—author of the very popular hymn “Amazing Grace”—expressed this intent of God in our trials and afflictions in another one of his hymns, “Prayer Answered By Crosses”:

“I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love, and every grace;
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.

’Twas he who taught me thus to pray,
And he, I trust, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour
At once he’d answer my request,
And by his love’s constraining power,
Subdue my sins and give me rest.

Instead of this, he made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart,
And let the angry powers of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Lord, why is this? I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith:

These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free,
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st seek thy all in me.”

 

But, it is not enough to see God‘s mighty hand behind the immediate causes of our adversities, nor to see it as the hand of a loving Father disciplining His children. If we are to appropriate God’s grace in our trial, we must first submit to His hand, which brought the trial.

This is well said by an ancient hymn:

“Lord, I am willing
To receive what you give,
To lack what you withhold,
To relinquish what you take,
To suffer what you inflict,
To be what you require.”

 

So, in order to ‘grow in grace’, we must abide in Jesus who is “full of grace and truth” (John 14:4), and is truly the “power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). That ‘power’ is unleashed wherever the love and grace of God, given to the believer without measure, and we “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” [ 1 Peter 5:7 ].

 

God continues to work in our lives to conform us more and more to the likeness of His Son, Jesus. As the Apostle Paul said, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” [ Philippians 1:6 ].

 

We are ‘exhorted’ to grow, to change, to put away the deeds of the “old man” and put on God-like character. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” [ Romans 12:2 ].

The transformation associated with Progressive Sanctification is much more than merely a change of outward conduct. It is a ‘renovation’ of our inner being, or as I have previously read someone say, “It is a transformation of the essential man.”

It means our motives, as well as our motivations, are being constantly changed, so that we can say with the Psalmist, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long,” and “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches” [ Psalm 119:97, 14 ].

The Apostle Paul underscored this sentiment to the Philippians: “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” [ Philippians 2:13 ]. The Holy Spirit gives the believer the enabling ‘power’ to be able to do God’s will.

 

Consider, for example, the list of Christlike character traits found in Galatians (5:22-23) and Colossians (3:12-15): Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, self-control; compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, forbearance, forgiveness and thankfulness.

Those are 14 positive character traits we are to ‘put on’, in addition to the many negative traits—pride, envy, jealousy, lust, covetousness, selfish ambition—the believer is to ‘put off’.

Only the Holy Spirit can orchestrate such a diverse and well-rounded development of Christian character—and yet, the believer is told to “clothe themselves” with these Christlike qualities—ESPECIALLY LOVE (Colossians 3:14). WE are to do it! We are RESPONSIBLE! (With a little help from a ‘friend’).

 

There’s a bit of a paradox here: We are both responsible and dependent. We are responsible to clothe ourselves with Christlike character, but we are dependent on the Holy Spirit to produce His “fruit” within us.

However incongruous, God expects us to ‘act’ to appropriate His grace. To this end, He has provided for principal means of doing so: prayer, the Bible, submission to His providential workings in our lives, and the ministry of others.

We are encouraged to go to God in prayer asking for the grace we need (Hebrews 4:16b)—not with terror because of His wrath, nor with awed fear because of His holiness, but with ‘confidence’ because of the ‘grace’ He has bestowed upon His ‘children’ (believers).

God is indeed infinitely holy, high and exulted (as Isaiah saw Him), and He will one day manifest Himself as the God of wrath to those who have spurned Him. However, to us, who are His children, He is the God of grace seated on His throne of grace! (Hebrews 4:16a).

 

You can think of God as that “land owner” who graciously gives a full day’s pay to the workers who had worked only one hour in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16).

He is the God who “longs to be gracious to you“ (Isaiah 30:18), and He is the God who is ‘for’ you, not against you (Romans 8:31). All this, and more, is summed up in that one statement, “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10).

Believers are also encouraged to come to the throne of grace where they have a sympathetic High Priest, Jesus, already interceding for us, “so that we may receive the mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15a).

 

The Apostle Paul said to the Ephesian elders, “And now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” [ Acts 20:32 ]. The reference here is to the ongoing use of the Bible in our daily lives—to ‘build us up’ in the Christian faith. But, Paul specifically called it “the word of His grace,” through which the believer is to appropriate God’s grace in their daily lives.

So, if we are to appropriate the grace of God then, we must become ‘intimate friends’ with the Bible.

We need to get beyond the “how to” of scripture—how to raise children, how to manage finances, how to witness to unbelievers—and all other search utilitarian approach is to Scripture. Such practical instruction from the Bible regarding our daily lives is indeed valuable, but we need to go beyond that.

The Bible is more than merely objective truth—it is actually life-giving and life sustaining. Growth in the grace of God—whether that be His divine favor to the unworthy, or His divine enabling to the needy—requires growth in our assimilation of the Word of God. It is not enough to only hear the Bible preached or taught in churches on Sunday mornings, as important as those ‘avenues’ are, we need a regular plan of reading, study, and yes, even memorization.

So if you desire to appropriate God’s grace, you must have the “sword of the spirit”—the Word of God—available in your mind for the spirit to use! (Ephesians 6: 17).

 

TOUGH TIMES

Just as it was for Christian in the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” the journey may prove to be more ‘painful’ than you might expect—getting to Heaven is not a ‘Disneyland’ experience! As was for Christian, there will be different ‘paths’ on your journey, and you may have some trouble discerning which is the right one to take. Be comforted that, God has promised the believer that He will “never leave or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), and His grace is available to you ANYTIME you ask! (Psalm 119:58).

Scottish author George Matheson, described his personal despair in his book, “Thoughts for Life’s Journey” when he wrote:

“My soul, reject not the place of thy prostration! It has ever been the robing room for royalty. Ask the great ones of the past what has been the spot of their prosperity; they will say, “It was the cold ground on which I once was laying.” Ask Abraham; he will point you to the sacrifice of Moriah. Ask Joseph; he will direct you to his dungeon. Ask Moses; he will date his fortune from his danger in the Nile. Ask Ruth; she will bid you build her monument on the field of her toil. Ask David; he will tell you that his songs came from the night. Ask Job; he will remind you that God answered him out of the whirlwind. Ask Peter; he will extol his submission in the sea. Ask John; he will give the palm to Patmos. Ask Paul; he will attribute his inspiration to the light that struck him blind. Ask one more—the Son of Man. Ask Him whence has come to rule over the world. He will answer, ‘From the cold ground on which I was lying—the Gethsemane ground; I received my sceptre there.’ Thou too, my soul, shalt be garlanded by Gethsemane. The cup thou fain wouldst pass from thee will be thy coronet in the sweet by-and-by. The hour of thy loneliness will crown thee. The day of thy depression will regale thee. It is the desert that will break forth into singing; it is the trees of thy silent forest that will clasp their hands.”

Both George Matheson and John Bunyan (author of “Pilgrim’s Progress”) would agree that the believer is in the “robing room for royalty,” and the tailor’s name is “Grace.” When God is finished perfectly fitting your ‘garment’ on you, your ‘journey’ will end, and you will be “home” in Heaven with Him!

 

God has PROMISED to BE ‘WITH’ you during life’s trials (Hebrews 13:5), and will finish His desire for you—to be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). God is telling the believer that this IS A CERTAINTY, and that it is as good as done! (“We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” – Romans 5:2b).

Also remember—so the believer doesn’t ‘worry’ about how they are going to grow in grace—it is God’s ‘responsibility’ to conform us into the likeness of Jesus (“for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” – Philippians 2:3). God ‘initiates’ and man ‘responds’! In fact, a definition of “responsibility” I remember reading is: “a person’s ‘response’ to God’s ‘ability’.” Our role is to ‘walk’ in an intimate, loving, faithful, obedient relationship with our Heavenly Father, and to cooperate with what He is doing in our lives. The Apostle Paul summarized this well: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” [ Philippians 3:8 ].

 

RUN THE ‘RACE’

The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian believers to, “Run in such a way that you may win” [ 1 Corinthians 9:24 ], and as regenerated, saved, justified, adopted, beloved children, we are to also “fight the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7).

The Bible clearly teaches that God ‘works’ in us so that the believer can “work out their salvation” (Philippians 2:12-13). Theologian John Calvin made this comment about this:

“As it is an arduous work and of immense labour, to put off the corruption which is in us, he bids us to strive and make every effort for this purpose. He intimates that no place is to be given in this case to sloth, and that we ought to obey God calling us, not slowly or carelessly, but that there is need of alacrity; as though he had said, ‘Put forth every effort, and make your exertions manifest to all.’”

 

There is no plausible way to read the Bible and conclude that God working in us absolves us from working hard, no responsible way to think that exhortation and exertion are anything other than essential to a life of discipleship:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” [ 1 Corinthians 15:10 ].

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” [ Philippians 2:12-13 ].

“For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” [ Colossians 1:29 ].

“For this reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge” [ 2 Peter 1:5 ].

 

The Westminster Confession of Faith speaks to this:

“Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will and to do, of His good pleasure: yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them” [ Chapter 16.3 ].

The Westminster ‘divines’ approached this issue by pointing out that believers’ “ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ.” Believers are able to do good works, the Confession says, because they are “enabled” to do so. This enabling takes two forms: first, in our regeneration, which grants us new and spiritual able natures; and, second, through the present “actual influence“ of the Spirit who works in us for good works.

Of course, this effort is NOT by our own strength. Christ works in us through the Holy Spirit and through the Gospel. As believers, we are ‘called’ to striving and effort!

Now, if a preacher tells you that you can be justified by works of the law, they should be damned (Galatians 1:8,9; 2:16). However, if they never tell you to flee from sin (1 Corinthians 6:18), never warn you about persisting in sin (1 John 3:4-10), never implore you to no longer keep on sinning (Hebrews 10:26), never plead with you to pluck out your eye (Mark 9:47), never let you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9), never urge you to lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees (Hebrews 12:12-17), then you may be damned! (Watch out for false teachers! – Matthew 7:15-29).

God uses a multitude of ‘indicatives’ and ‘imperatives’ to save us and sustain us. It’s all of grace, of course, but grace does not always look or sound the same. There is grace to run and grace to rest—and we need both!

 

CONCLUSION

If you want to “grow in grace” and become more Christlike, you need to have ‘communion’ (“union”) with Jesus—and you need to do it on His terms and the ‘channels’ of grace that He has provided: praying, reading your Bible, and going to church to get expository preaching, good fellowship, and to receive the sacraments. All that to say that the ‘means’ to extraordinary holiness is through ‘ordinary’ means.

Growing in grace is not only what God ‘expects’ from the believer, but what He ‘allows’ from them. “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress” [ 1 Timothy 4:15 ]. So, when it comes to sanctification, it’s more important where you are ‘GOING’ than where you ‘ARE’. Direction matters MORE than ‘position’.

So, cheer up: if you are not as full of grace and ‘holy’ as you want to be right now, God may still be pleased with you because you are headed in the right direction! As Author and CCEF’s executive director Davis Powlison used to say, “Sanctification is like a man walking up the stairs with a yo-yo. There are a lot of ups and downs, but ultimate progress nonetheless.”

In the very first of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, he said, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent’’ (Matthew 4:17), He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” True sanctification, therefore, will be marked by ‘REPENTANCE’ more than perfection.

The Greek word “teleios” sometimes translated “perfect,” simply means “qualified, mature, or fulfilled” (Colossians 1:28, 4:12; Hebrews 210; James 1:4). So, even though the Bible says, “believers are to be perfect,” it really never means to be completely sinlessness in thought, word, and deed, rather it means that a believer’s ‘DESIRE’ can be sinless.

 

Holiness (“grace”) is the sum of a million little things like the avoidance of little evils, little foibles, little bits of worldliness, little acts of compromise, little inconsistencies, little indiscretions, little duties, little dealings, and the hard work of little self-denials and self-restraints, and the cultivation of little benevolences and forbearances. Just progress in the ‘right’ direction—growing in the likeness of Jesus!

True holiness, as the Dutch Reformer Wilhelmus A. Brakel said, “is the most beautiful ornament and the most magnificent beauty which can be found in man.” Behold it in Jesus, and become like Him in glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

God wants you to become more holy. Through faith He already counts you holy ‘IN’ Christ. Now, He intends to make you holy ‘WITH’ Christ.

God saved you to sanctify you. God is in the ‘beautification’ business (like the non profit I am associated with, Life Remodeled: https://markbesh.wordpress.com/continued-transformation-v236/ ). He washes away ‘spots’ and smooths out ‘wrinkles’ (Ephesian 5:17).

God promises to work ‘in’ the believer, but He also requires you to work things ‘out’. “The spendor of holiness” is first of all the Lord’s (Psalm 29:2). But, BY GROWING IN GRACE, it can be yours!

 

Thankfully, the Apostle Paul tells us what the “marks of the true Christian” are:

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” [ Romans 12:9-21 ].

 

So, what could be richer or more rewarding than the Christian faith? Every believer in Jesus has “every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3). They “were chosen by God before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). They have “complete forgiveness” (Ephesians 1:7). They have an “inheritance beyond anything we could imagine” (Ephesians 1:14). They have “complete security” (Ephesians 1:14). They are “alive with new life” (Ephesians 2:5). They are the “objects of eternal grace” (Ephesians 2:7). They are “God‘s masterpiece” (Ephesians 2:10). They are “in union with Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). They are “members of one body” (Ephesians 2:16), with “access to God by one Spirit” (Ephesians 2:18). They are “the temple of God” (Ephesians 2:2) and the “dwelling place of the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22), and they “are powerful” (Ephesians 3:20). WOW!!!

Believers don’t need more of the Holy Spirit, more love, more grace, or more anything else. In Christ, the believer HAS ALL OF IT ALREADY! They have everything they need to grow in grace and mature spiritually.

 

The thing is, sanctification is a JOURNEY, a ‘process’ that TAKES A LIFETIME!—and God promises that He will continue to ‘work on’ us until we are perfectly “conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Romans 8:29). In the meantime, as we grow, life will present us with countless ‘proofs’ that God still has a ‘bit’ of work to do in us! [ At least in me! ;^D ]

 

The other thing is, the believer is not totally ‘responsible’ for their growth, God is, and He has promised that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” [ Philippians 1:6 ]. We just have to submit to the Holy Spirit’s ‘leading’, and allow Him to show us what we are to do to “work out our salvation” (Philippians 2:12b).

 

It is an exciting adventure of ‘walking’ with a loving God through this life, getting to know Him better in the process, and ‘seeing’ Him use you in things that are of eternal value (helping people get to Heaven and receiving eternal life). The decision to present ourselves to God by faith is our part in the process of ‘sanctification’, or GROWING IN GRACE. God, then, produces the results.

Once we have made this decision to present ourselves to God as dependent and available ‘children’, how do we translate this into action by allowing Jesus to live ‘through’ us? Well, get reading the Bible, that’s where God will ‘speak’ to you.

 

My prayer for you is that God will open the ‘eyes’ of your ‘heart’ to enable you to understand His love and grace toward you, so you will discover the truly abundant life as you ’GROW’ IN GRACE!

 

[ Excerpts from: David A. Hubbard; Barry York; Jon Payne; Fred Greco; Robert Rothwell; Kevin DeYoung; John MacArthur; Charles Swindoll; Tony Evans; Jerry Bridges; David Jeremiah; Bob George; Sinclair Ferguson ]

 

RELATED POSTS:

Amazing ‘Grace’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/amazing-grace-v239/

Continued ‘Transformation’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/continued-transformation-v236/

Ready For ‘Battle’?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/ready-for-battle-v235/

New ‘Identity’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/new-identity-v220/

The Purpose of ‘Tests’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/the-purpose-of-tests-v213/

‘Metamorphosis’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/metamorphosis-v170/

 

‘PRAYER’ OF REPENTANCE
In the Bible, there is a parable that Jesus told about a Pharisee and a tax collector praying in the Temple. He notes that the tax collector didn’t even dare to lift his eyes toward Heaven as he prayed. Instead he “beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner’”—and Jesus said that the tax collector “went home justified,” he had been “born again” and ‘reconciled’ by God. (Luke 18:9-14).

If you are ‘sensing’ something like that right now, let me strongly encourage you to HUMBLE YOURSELF, CRY OUT to God, and PLEAD for Him to mercifully ‘SAVE’ YOU! None of us have a ‘claim’ on our salvation, nor do we have any ‘works’ that would cause us to deserve it or earn it—it is purely a gift of Divine grace—and all any of us can do is ask. So, CONFESS YOUR SINS and acknowledge to God that you have no hope for Heaven apart from what He provides through Jesus.

There is no ‘formula’ or certain words for this. So just talk to God, in your own words—He knows your ‘heart’. If you are genuinely sincere, and God does respond to your plea, one will usually have a sense of joy and peace.

Jesus said, “He that comes to Me, I will not cast out” [ John 6:37 ].

[ NOTE: If you have ‘tasted the kindness of the Lord’, please e-mail me—I would love to CELEBRATE with you, and help you get started on your ‘journey’ with Jesus! ].

 

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RESOURCES:

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Pilgrim’s Progress” (Book Summary

[ Cliff Notes ]

https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/p/the-pilgrims-progress/book-summary

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Growing in Grace” (with Study Guide)
By: Bob George

If your only experience of God’s grace is salvation, you’re missing half the good news. The other half is equally inspiring–Jesus wants you to experience His grace every day as He lives his life through you!

Discover vibrant, life-embracing faith through the simple and timeless truth of God’s grace. As people who have been saved by grace and set free by grace, our next step is to grow in grace. As we grow, we rejoice in the scriptural promises that enable us to give up guilt and anxiety, let go of legalism, and rediscover the joyous reality of Christ living His life through us!

The helpful study guide is perfect for small groups and all who desire to learn even more about the freeing life that is ours as followers of Jesus Christ.

https://www.amazon.com/Growing-Grace-Study-Guide-George/dp/1565076974

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The Grace Awakening: Believing in grace is one thing. Living it is another.
By: Charles R. Swindoll

Have we forgotten the meaning of grace?

Preachers preach it. Teachers teach it. Theologians analyze it. Then we forget about it. Here, in a twentieth-anniversary edition, is The Grace Awakening, Charles Swindoll’s best-selling classic that has awakened hundreds of thousands of readers to the untapped wonders of grace. Wonders that Christians know with their minds but forget with their hearts. Wonders that can make a difference in the way we live, in the way we approach life. Wonders that can make the difference between ho-hum religion and an intimate relationship with a God who wishes us nothing short of joy.

Included in this anniversary edition is The Grace Awakening Devotional, a month-long spiritual journey to help you explore the newfound freedom of God’s grace in your life. As you continue to experience the wonder of God’s inexhaustible grace, you’ll be awakened in new ways to everything God wants to do in your life.

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Grace Is Greater: God’s Plan to Overcome Your Past, Redeem Your Pain, and Rewrite Your Story
By: Kyle Idleman

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews said, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God.” Over the centuries much ink has been spilled on the subject of grace. Yet perhaps nothing is as hard to explain as God’s grace. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not fair. It can’t possibly cover over what I’ve done. The best way–perhaps the only real way–to understand it is to experience it. But too often in our churches we’re not getting grace across and grace is not experienced.

Bestselling author and pastor Kyle Idleman wants everyone to experience the grace of God. Through the powerful medium of story, Grace Is Greater leads readers past their hang-ups toward an understanding of grace that is bigger than our mistakes, our failures, our desire for revenge, and our seemingly impossible situations. No sin is so great, no bitterness so deep that God’s grace cannot transform the heart and rewrite the story.

Perfect for individuals and also for small groups and church-wide studies, Grace Is Greater will help readers truly grasp God’s grace, even if the Christians around them have failed to live it.

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Transforming Grace
By: Jerry Bridges

Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love
Grace is amazing because it is God’s provision for when we fall short of His standards. Unfortunately, too many of us embrace grace for our salvation but then leave it behind in our everyday lives. We base our relationship with God on our performance rather than on His love for us, even when we intuitively know that our performance cannot earn us the love we so desperately crave.

Isn’t it time to stop trying to measure up and begin accepting the transforming power of God’s grace? The product of more than ten years of Bible study, Navigator author Jerry Bridges’s Transforming Grace is a fountainhead of inspiration and renewal that will show you just how inexhaustible and generous God’s grace really is.

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The Truth About Grace
By: John MacArthur

“Is the experience of God’s grace in your life a thrilling thing? Just thinking about the fact that God, by His own sovereign plan, decided to be gracious to me is overwhelming. There is nothing greater than receiving grace upon grace.” ―John MacArthur
Simple definitions can make grace feel like an obvious?even mundane?concept. Nothing could be further from the truth. Grace is the defining feature of the Christian faith. Once we understand how undeserving we are and how much favor we’ve been given, grace becomes shocking, thrilling, inspiring, and contagious.
Best-selling author and pastor John MacArthur illuminates this profound concept with verse upon verse of Scripture. He also shows that misunderstandings about grace have led to some of the church’s greatest problems, perhaps because grace is her most precious gift.
The Truth About Series
For decades, MacArthur has encouraged countless Christians to develop a deeper understanding of the Bible and a greater respect for God’s truth. In The Truth About series, he now gathers his landmark teachings about core aspects of the Christian faith in one place. These powerful books are designed to give readers a focused experience that centers on God’s character and how it applies to their daily walk of faith.

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How to Grow in Grace” (eBook)
By: Archibald Alexander

That growth in grace is gradual and progressive is very evident from Scripture; as in all those passages where believers are exhorted to mortify sin and crucify the flesh, and to increase and abound in all the exercises of piety and good works. One text on this subject will be sufficient: ‘Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’ And this passage furnishes us with information as to the origin and nature of this growth. It is knowledge, even the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Just so far as any soul increases in spiritual knowledge, in the same degree it grows in grace. Persons may advance rapidly in other kinds of knowledge, and yet make no advances in piety, but the contrary. They may even have their minds filled with correct theoretical knowledge of divine truth, and yet its effect may not be to humble, but to ‘puff up’. Many an accurate and profound theologian has lived and died without a ray of saving light. The natural man, however gifted with talent or enriched with speculative knowledge, has no spiritual discernment. After all his acquisitions, he is destitute of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. But it should not be forgotten that divine illumination is not independent of the Word, but accompanies it. Those Christians, therefore, who are most diligent in attending upon the Word in public and private, will be most likely to make progress in piety.

Table of Contents

No Growth, No Life
Growth in Grace is Gradual
Young Converts Often Depend on Excitement
Vigilance Against Besetting Sins and Temptations
Bearing Injuries and Provocations with Meekness
Aiming at the Glory of God
9 Practical Direction on How to Grown in Grace
Reasons Why Christians May Be Feeble in Strength

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How to Grow in Grace is an excerpt from the book, “Thoughts on Religious Experience,” also available as a free eBook [ NEXT in ‘listing’ – below ]

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Thoughts on Religious Experience” (eBook)
By: Archibald Alexander

On the basis of fifty years as a pastor, preacher and professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, Archibald Alexander (1772-1851) deals with the subjective work of the Holy Spirit in the heart in all its phases, from the new birth until final preparation for heaven.

There are two kinds of religious knowledge which, though intimately connected as cause and effect, may nevertheless be distinguished. These are the knowledge of the truth as it is revealed in the Holy Scriptures; and the impression which that truth makes on the human mind when rightly apprehended. The first may be compared to the inscription or image on a seal, the other to the impression made by the seal on the wax. When that impression is clearly and distinctly made, we can understand, by contemplating it, the true inscription on the seal more satisfactorily, than by a direct view of the seal itself. Thus it is found that nothing tends more to confirm and elucidate the truths contained in the Word, than an inward experience of their efficacy on the heart. It cannot, therefore, be uninteresting to the Christian to have these effects, as they consist in the various views and affections of the mind, traced out and exhibited in their connection with the truth, and in their relation to each other.

There is, however, one manifest disadvantage under which we must labor in acquiring this kind of knowledge, whether by our own experience or that of others; which is, that we are obliged to follow a fallible guide; and the pathway to this knowledge is very intricate, and the light which shines upon it often obscure. All investigations of the exercises of the human mind are attended with difficulty, and never more so, than when we attempt to ascertain the religious or spiritual state of our hearts. If indeed the impression of the truth were perfect, there would exist little or no difficulty; but when it is a mere outline and the lineaments obscure, it becomes extremely difficult to determine whether it be the genuine impress of the truth: especially as in this case, there will be much darkness and confusion in the mind, and much that is of a nature directly opposite to the effects of the engrafted word. There is, moreover, so great a variety in the constitution of human minds, so much diversity in the strength of the natural passions, so wide a difference in the temperament of Christians, and so many different degrees of piety—that the study of this department of religious truth is exceedingly difficult. In many cases the most experienced and skillful theologian will feel himself at a loss, or may utterly mistake, in regard to the true nature of a case submitted to his consideration.

The complete and perfect knowledge of the deceitful heart of man is a prerogative of the omniscient God. “I the Lord search the hearts and try the reins of the children of men.” (Psalm 7:9; Rev 2:23) But we are not on this account forbidden to search into this subject. So far is this from being true, that we are repeatedly exhorted to examine ourselves in relation to this very point, and Paul expresses astonishment that the Corinthian Christians should have made so little progress in self-knowledge. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!“ (2 Cor 13:5)

In judging of religious experience it is all-important to keep steadily in view the system of divine truth contained in the Holy Scriptures; otherwise, our experience, as is too often the case, will degenerate into wild enthusiasm. Many ardent professors seem too readily to take it for granted that all religious feelings must be good. They therefore take no care to discriminate between the genuine and the spurious, the pure gold and the tinsel. Their only concern is about the ardor of their feelings; not considering that if they are spurious, the more intense they are, the further will they lead them astray. In our day there is nothing more necessary than to distinguish carefully between true and false experiences in religion; to “test the spirits—whether they are from God.” (1 John 4:1) And in making this discrimination, there is no other test but the infallible Word of God; let every thought, motive, impulse and emotion be brought to this touchstone. “To the law and the testimony; if they speak not according to these, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa 8:20)

If genuine religious experience is nothing but the impression of divine truth on the mind, by the energy of the Holy Spirit, then it is evident that a knowledge of the truth is essential to genuine piety. Error never can under any circumstances produce the effects of truth. This is now generally acknowledged. But it is not so clearly understood by all, that any defect in our knowledge of the truth must, just so far as the error extends, mar the symmetry of the impression produced. The error, in this case, is of course not supposed to relate to fundamental truths, for then there can be no genuine piety; but where a true impression is made, it may be rendered very defective, for lack of a complete knowledge of the whole system of revealed truth; or its beauty marred by the existence of some errors mingled with the truth, which may be well illustrated by returning again to the seal. Suppose that some part of the image inscribed on it has been defaced, or that some of the letters have been obliterated, it is evident that when the impression is made on the wax, there will be a corresponding deficiency or deformity, although in the main the impress may be correct.

There is reason to believe, therefore, that all ignorance of revealed truth, or error respecting it, must be attended with a corresponding defect in the religious exercises of the person. This consideration teaches us the importance of truth, and the duty of increasing daily in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is the true and only method of growing in grace. There may be much correct theoretical knowledge, I admit, where there is no impression corresponding with it on the heart; but still, all good impressions on the heart are from the truth, and from the truth alone. Hence we find, that those denominations of Christians which receive the system of evangelical truth only in part, have a defective experience; and their Christian character, as a body, is so far defective; and even where true piety exists, we often find a sad mixture of wild enthusiasm, self-righteousness, or superstition. And even where the theory of doctrinal truth is complete, yet if there be an error respecting the terms of Christian communion, by narrowing the entrance into Christ’s fold to a degree which His Word does not authorize, this single error, whatever professions may be made to the contrary with the lips, always generates a narrow spirit of bigotry, which greatly obstructs the free exercise of that brotherly love which Christ made the badge of discipleship.

If these things be so, then let all Christians use unceasing diligence in acquiring a correct knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus; and let them pray without ceasing for the influence of the Holy Spirit to render the truth effectual in the sanctification of the whole man, soul, body, and spirit. “Sanctify them through your truth; your word is truth“, (John 17:17) was a prayer offered up by Christ in behalf of all whom the Father had given Him.

Table of Contents

Preface
Early Religious Impressions
Piety in Children
The New Birth an Event of Great Importance
Causes of Diversity in Experience Continued
Effect of Sympathy Illustrated
Erroneous Views of Regeneration
Considerations on Dreams, Visions, etc.
Religious Conversation
Christian Experience of R__ C__.
Imperfect Sanctification
The Spiritual Conflict
Growth in Grace
Backsliding
The Rich and the Poor
Deathbed of the Believer
Remarks on Deathbed Exercises
Preparation for Death
A Prayer for One Who Feels that he is Approaching the Borders of Another World

https://www.monergism.com/thoughts-religious-experience-ebook

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Am I Growing in Grace
By: John Owen
A reading of John Owen’s work on the Holy Spirit and Progressive Sanctification, its hindrances and evidences.

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Grace for the Moment: Volume 1: Inspirational Thoughts for Each Day of the Year
By: Max Lucado

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Growing in Grace: Daily Devotions for Hungry Hearts
By: Paul Tsika and Billie Kaye Tsika

Finding God’s Treasure in Your Quiet Time

Time with God is not about quantity; it’s about quality.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply come before God, give Him the moments you have available, and ask Him to fill those moments with His presence. When this is your heart’s attitude, the time you give to God becomes a sacred space that will change how you approach your day.

Growing in Grace is your invitation to a deeper walk with Jesus. Even in the middle of chaos, stress, and obstacles, the timeless words of Scripture can guide you into a place of peace, comfort, and joy.

You will experience 260 short, yet powerful devotional moments with God that will bring you strength, restoration, clarity, and wisdom. Covering topics such as miracles, your words, forgiveness, trust, love and hope, discover how God’s Word can positively shape the course of your day, bringing joy, freedom, peace, and a deeper intimacy with Jesus into your life.

Wherever you find yourself on your spiritual journey, a few moments of

quality time with God can powerfully illuminate your entire day!

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The Spirit-Filled Life: Discover the Joy of Surrendering to the Holy Spirit
By: Charles F. Stanley

A wise, measured, and deeply passionate invitation to a Spirit-filled life

Are you trying your best to be a good Christian but still feel something’s missing? Do the peace and joy you long for seem to elude you? Does following Christ sometimes feel like a lot of work—or like it’s just not working very well?

Much has been written and spoken—and argued!—about the Holy Spirit and what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Charles Stanley cuts through the confusion and introduces you to a living Person as real and active as God the Father and Christ the Son. Through personal stories, biblical exploration, and insightful explanation, he will help you discover:

– Who the Spirit is—and how to develop a relationship with Him
– Who the Spirit isn’t—and how to avoid damaging misconceptions
– How being “filled” with the Spirit actually works
– What the Bible really teaches about spiritual “signs” such as speaking in tongues
how the Spirit can increase your capacity for faith, hope, love, and personal transformation
– What it means to “hear” the Spirit’s voice
– How to make the most of your unique spiritual gifting to build up Christ’s body
– What happens when the Spirit’s power is unleashed in your workplace, your family life, your friendships, and every other area of your life

In The Spirit-Filled Life Charles Stanley reveals how to recognize and begin to live with the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

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Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines
By: David Mathis

Hear his voice. Have his ear. Belong to his body.

Three seemingly unremarkable principles shape and strengthen the Christian life: listening to God’s voice, speaking to him in prayer, and joining together with his people as the church.

Though seemingly normal and routine, the everyday “habits of grace” we cultivate give us access to these God-designed channels through which his love and power flow — including the greatest joy of all: knowing and enjoying Jesus.

“We cannot earn God’s grace or make it flow apart from his free gift. But we can position ourselves to go on getting as he keeps on giving.”

Free Download: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/habits-of-grace

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The Cycle of Grace: Living In Sacred Balance
By: Trevor Hudson and Jerry P Haas

Are you soul-weary? Do you struggle to make time for God in the midst of a packed schedule? Or do you sometimes stay so busy doing things for God that you can t relax and just be ? Jesus faced amazing pressure and overwhelming demands throughout his ministry, but he did not experience the burnout so common today among Christian ministers and laypersons. You can learn the rhythm of living that Jesus demonstrates the Cycle of Grace throughout the Gospels. Use this workbook and accompanying video about the Cycle of Grace either individually or in a small group. THE CYCLE OF GRACE examines 4 components of a grace-filled life: Acceptance Sustenance Significance Fruitfulness Trevor Hudson, a dynamic pastor, author, and speaker, introduces each part of the Cycle of Grace in a short video sement (available on YouTube). The video segments are titled as follows: Cycle of Grace 1: Acceptance Cycle of Grace 2: Sustenance Cycle of Grace 3: Significance Cycle of Grace 4: Fruitfulness Cycle of Grace 5: A Grace-filled Way to Live In the workbook Jerry Haas provides practical exercises for individuals and groups, complete with suggestions for journaling and preparing for group sessions. This 6-week study will help you know that God loves you nurture your spiritual life understand who you are called to be in the world learn how to restore balance to your life The workbook includes a Leader s Guide and several useful appendixes. A must-have resource for clergy and lay leaders, The Cycle of Grace is also an excellent text for seminary and college classes preparing students for ministry.

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Future Grace
By: John Piper

In Future Grace, author John Piper helps readers discover the key to overcoming sin and living a life that honors God. Many men and women attempt to walk upright out of gratitude for what Christ did in the past, but Piper encourages believers to look ahead to the grace God provides for us on a day-by-day, moment-by-moment basis—putting faith into action by laying hold of God’s promises for the challenges we face.

Sever the Root of Sin

No one sins out of duty. We sin because we want to. Sin promises happiness, and we buy the lie. So how can the root of sin be severed in our lives? The penalty of sin must be paid by the righteous blood of Christ. And the power of sin must be broken by banking on the promises of Christ.

John Piper’s meditations are rooted in rock-solid biblical reflection. Chapter by chapter—one for each day of the month—he reveals how, by cherishing the promises of God, you can break the power of anxiety, despondency, covetousness, lust, bitterness, impatience, pride, misplaced shame, and more.

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Living Daily in God’s Grace
By: Wayne Barber

We can’t live the Christian life…but Christ can live it in us! If you have sat through countless sermons but are still searching for the fulfilled life described in Scripture, Wayne Barber’s warm and insightful book shows you how to discover a new, deeper walk with God.

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The Disciples’ Prayer
By: John MacArthur

This study of Matthew 6:9-15 is a careful look at what is usually called the Lord’s prayer.

https://www.amazon.com/Disciples-Prayer-MacArthurs-Bible-Studies/dp/0802451292/

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THE SEARCH FOR MEANINGWEBSITE

This site presents discussions on the 12 most commonly asked questions about the Christian faith.

The 12 discussions are accessed by the “tabs” at the bottom of the page. The tabs are numbered 1-12. Roll your mouse over them and you will see the question displayed at the right. Click on the number to select that question.

Within each question (i.e. tabs 1-12), there are subtopics (or dialogues) to select that appear as smaller tabs underneath the numbered tabs. Roll your mouse over them and the title of these topics is also displayed to the right. Click on the open rectangle to select that dialogue.

For each question (1-12), a link to related resources and an optional flowchart is provided. To access this material, click on the respective words, “Related Resources” or “Options Flowchart.”

To play a more detailed discussion of the subject, between two people, select the desired dialogue and click on “Play Audio Dialogue.”

In the upper right-hand corner of the page, there is an icon that looks like binoculars looking at a question mark. Click on this icon to return to the homepage.

In the upper right-hand corner of a “Related Resources” page, there is an icon that looks like some books. Click on this icon to get to an “overview” page that has links to all of the resources for all of the questions. There also are additional “appendices” for most of the questions.

In the upper right-hand corner of a “Flowchart” page, there is an icon that looks like an Org chart. Click on this icon to get to an “overview” page that has links to all of the flowcharts.

http://4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q1_d1_1of10.html

[ Content by: Bill Kraftson and Lamar Smith; Website by Mark Besh ]

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“FRUITS OF THE BEATITUDES” WEB SITE
(The ATTITUDES of Jesus that produce the CHARACTER of Jesus)

CLICK ON THE LINK to view:
http://fruitsofthebeatitudes.org/

FACEBOOK PAGE:
https://www.facebook.com/FruitsOfTheBeatitudes/

[ Mark Besh ]

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[ P.S.: If you would like to investigate further about how to grow closer to God in the here and now, visit the following link:
http://www.4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q12_d1_1of10.html ].

 

ARTICLES:

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Cycle of Grace

[ Trevor Hudson and Jerry P. Haas ]

Cycle of Grace 1. Acceptance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X6m_itTrsU
Cycle of Grace 2. Sustenance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtzH5SiZeiU
Cycle of Grace 3. Significance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7LRf1lvDk4
Cycle of Grace 4. Fruitfulness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2wK0ghuJ2k
Cycle of Grace 5. A Grace-filled Way to Live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9-U9drJm4s

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Growing In God’s Grace – 1 Peter 2:1-3

[ Bunjee Garrett ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNsSWx9fctk

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Grace and Peace

When Peter wrote his second letter, false teaching and immorality were on the rise in the Church. Peter urged his readers to return to the basics of the Gospel.

[ Alistair Begg ]

Part 1 of 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBnmzWAYhuI
Part 2 of 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYTJrT8mSe8

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Spiritual Growth Is Not Optional
1 Peter 2:1–3, Part 1”

[ John Piper ]

‘Chalk Talk’: https://www.desiringgod.org/labs/spiritual-growth-is-not-optional

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Christ-Likeness: Growing by God’s Grace

Philippians 2:12-13 and John 15:1-11

[ Andrew Faris ]

Sermon: https://vimeo.com/95187952

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Grace Liberates

[ Ligon Duncan ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G37cskFzacM

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Growing In Grace

Growth is one of the clearest signs of a healthy plant. The same is true of our spiritual health. On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg challenges us to evaluate our spiritual lives by considering whether or not we are growing in grace.

[ Alistair Begg ]

Part 1 of 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2P6SAFrt4M
Part 2 of 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bs_9PhoS8pM

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Definitive and Progressive Sanctification

[ Sinclair Ferguson ]

Interview Snippet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-KbJGQ497E

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Growing in God’s Word

Today we’re going to look at the last verse of the book of 2nd Peter it says this but grow in the Grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

[ Pastor Jared ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zR_t-fnJy-s

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Living by Faith in Future Grace

[ John Piper ]

Illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Xzpg-LPoAg

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Discover How God’s Grace Rewrites Your Life Story

Seemingly impossible situations in life often leave us hanging onto our mistakes, insecurities, and resentment. But no sin or bitterness is too deep for God’s grace to transform our hearts. In this message at Saddleback Church, best-selling author and pastor Kyle Idleman shares from his new book, “Grace Is Greater.” You’ll learn how to experience a mighty grace that is bigger than your past failures and how it has the power to rewrite your story.

[ Kyle Idleman ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L-5SkXeiNg

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Grace Is Greater Than: Circumstances

No matter where you find yourself, what got you there, or how long you’ve been there, God’s grace can meet you right where you are. There is nothing too big, difficult, scary, or impossible for God, because Grace is greater than Circumstances.

[ Kyle Idleman ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ9HhnGlQv4

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Grace Is Greater Than: Hurts

This weekend, we’re learning that grace is only grace if it goes both ways. If we have received God’s grace in our lives, then we need to give it to otherseven those who have hurt us the most, because Grace is greater than Hurts.

[ Kyle Idleman ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCh96y-TkZw

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Grace Is Greater Than: Mistakes

When sin piles up, we try desperately to find a way out. But God enters the picture and shows us that there is nothing too big for His free gift of grace. No matter what you’ve done, Grace is greater than mistakes.

[ Kyle Idleman ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIpZa_ALMPs

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Grace Is Greater Than: Weaknesses

When we’re weak, God is strong. In fact, that is often when God is at His strongest. God’s grace meets us even at our weakest point and shows us that Grace is greater than Weaknesses.

[ Kyle Idleman ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGDdlxvStTA

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Growth In Grace

[ Kevin DeYoung ]

Sermon: https://vimeo.com/227805440

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How to Grow In Grace!

[ Dr. Arnold ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQbPVTdK_kQ

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I Want to Grow: More Spiritual; Less Worldly

[ Time of Grace ]

Sermon: https://www.timeofgrace.org/media/video/433/i_want_to_grow_more_spiritual_less_worldly

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Growing in the Grace of God Overview

[ Bob Hoekstra

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=18&v=2X67lhmnToE
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfUox1BjPPU

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What’s So Amazing About Grace? – Week 8

[ Dan Stoffer – Eastpinte Christian Church ]

Sermon: https://vimeo.com/277093720

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God Gives Us Love and Grace from Moment to Moment

[ Charles R. Swindoll ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A56fgffsAJ0

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Grace Arrives When You Need It”

[ John Piper ]

Sermon Snippet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=oVHRNBkLAxE

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The Secret of Strength

[ Jack Graham ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LkcHGtPK4w

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Future Grace

[ John Piper ]

Session 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6ppRI_uYvs
Session 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hkg-0M0x3iE

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Grace On Display

[ Charles Stanley ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gOspIzV3pk

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Growing in Grace

Sermon on 2 Peter 3:18.

[ Alistair Begg ]

(Part 1 of 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2P6SAFrt4M
(Part 2 of 2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bs_9PhoS8pM

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How To Grow in Grace

[ A.W. Tozer ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItiYv_VOibE

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God Gives Us Love and Grace from Moment to Moment

[ Charles R. Swindoll ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A56fgffsAJ0

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Galatians 5:13-26; Titus 2

A Chapel message delivered by Alistair Begg

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjEEcMSwoLU

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Growing in God’s Word

Time of Grace Ministry (Pastor Jared)

Teaching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zR_t-fnJy-s

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Grace Filled Life

This is the eighth sermon in the series on First Peter. Pastor Jamie Walton preaches on 1 Peter 4:1-11.

[ Jamie Walton ]

Sermon: https://vimeo.com/143782242

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How does Grace Empower Me to Live a Holy Life? – Grace Wins #46

Why is everyone fighting over grace? There is a battle being waged between legalism and liberty, religion and relationship, law and grace. Who will win in your life? Daniel King is an enthusiastic defender of the Gospel of Grace. In this video, he explains a powerful truth that will change your life.

Illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrIve4WaEWg

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Learning to Live a Grace-Paced Life: An Interview with David Murray

Interview: https://www.crossway.org/articles/learning-to-live-a-grace-paced-life-an/

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Living by Faith in Future Grace

Though our faith is founded on past acts of redeeming grace, the way faith works now is by looking to the boundless fountain of future grace.

[ John Piper ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Xzpg-LPoAg

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A Treatise on Religious Affections” (eBook)

The object in this book is to distinguish between true and false religion by showing the marks of a saving work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

[ Jonathan Edwards ]

https://www.monergism.com/treatise-religious-affections-ebook

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The Disciples’ Prayer

“If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (v. 14).

– Matthew 6:9–15
After Jesus tells us not to pray like the hypocrites, He teaches us how to commune with God properly. Today’s passage contains what is traditionally called the Lord’s Prayer, though this title is bit of a misnomer. Properly speaking, our Savior cannot pray this prayer in the same way we can because He has no need of forgiveness (Matt. 6:12; 1 Peter 2:22). The Disciples’ Prayer is probably a more accurate title, commentators note, since Christ’s followers pray it. In any case, these words from our Lord are among the most beloved sections of Scripture, and our study can offer only the barest glimpse of their meaning.

First, it is significant that Jesus teaches us to pray our Father, not my Father (v. 9). This prayer is meant to be prayed corporately; Christian piety is not an individualistic affair. If God is our Father, then all followers of Christ are our siblings. We come together as a family, especially on the Lord’s Day, to call on His name, learn His will, and offer thanks for His salvation. The privilege of addressing God as Father is available only to those who serve Jesus (John 1:12–13) and helps us understand our Creator’s loving care for us. This love is a holy love that is willing to discipline us for our own purity (Heb. 12:3–11).

Second, as we pray for God’s will to be done and His name to be hallowed (Matt. 6:9–10), we know that we are to be agents through whom He accomplishes this request. His will includes forgiveness, and only those who forgive can pray this prayer sincerely. Only an arrogant person asks God to do for him that which he refuses to do for others, and our Father will not pardon the unforgiving person (vv. 14–15). By no means, however, do we merit God’s forgiveness. He who forgives knows his own wickedness and sees that he is no better than anyone else. He cannot hold a grudge against other sinners since the holy Creator has forgiven him, a sinner. An unforgiving person has not really seen himself as a transgressor undeserving of God’s love and in need of forgiveness. Not having truly repented, he does not really know the Lord’s pardon and is unable to forgive other sinners. Matthew Henry comments, “He who relents toward his brother thus shows that he repents toward his God.”

[ R.C. Sproul ]

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The Disciples’ Prayer
By: John MacArthur

What if someone said you needed to cut down on your prayer time? You might call him a bad teacher, but consider this: Prayer can be a waste of time if you don’t understand its purpose.

Question is, what is the purpose of prayer? Is it possible to pray the wrong way? What is the substance of a powerful, purposeful prayer life—principles that Christ Himself wants us to put into practice?

John MacArthur answers those questions in The Disciples’ Prayer, an up-close, phrase-by-phrase look at the prayer Christ modeled for His followers of every era.

Sermon Series: https://www.gty.org/library/topical-series-library/60/the-disciples-prayer

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The Parable of Spiritual Growth

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to make a commitment to Christ and just be transformed overnight? They go out and buy the biggest Bible you can get. They show up at every Sunday and midweek church service. They sing louder than anyone. They raise their hands higher than anyone. They talk to everyone they know about Jesus. Then all of sudden, out of nowhere, they just throw in the towel and say they are not into it anymore. Why does that happen? Find out in Pastor Greg’s message “The Parable of Spiritual Growth“ from the series Greatest Stories Ever Told.

[ Greg Laurie ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D-ueUTXRZc

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Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

Part of the “All In” sermon series

[ Jack Graham ]

Sermon: https://youtu.be/BnIwHkATYNw?t=1798

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Living a Life That Counts

[ Charles Stanley ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6csBPYfOH8

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Redeeming the Time!

[ Jonathan Edwards ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt6XUf5ikfQ

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True Grace Distinguished from the Experience of Devils
[ Jonathan Edwards ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WHWnUj5YZY

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Spiritual Maturity as Defined by Scripture

Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith (http://www.fightingforthefaith.com) answers the question “How does Scripture define Spiritual Maturity?“ After listening to this, you’ll know if you’re spiritually mature or spiritually infantile.

[ Chris Rosebrough ]

Exegesis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOeIcpZOfM4

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Test Your Spiritual Maturity

[ Todd Friel ]

Illustration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2F-UEnUIU0

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Growing or Going“ :: Hebrews 6:1-8

The Calvary Chapel Church has been formed as a fellowship of believers in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our supreme desire is to know Christ and be conformed into His image by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are not a denominational church, nor are we opposed to denominations as such, only their over-emphasis of doctrinal differences that have led to the division of the body of Christ.

Calvary Chapel Natomas is an affiliate of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and has been established through Calvary Chapel Amador.

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God. Therefore, our ministry emphasizes the exposition of God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation.

We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His promised return in power and glory.

We believe that repentance from sin and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior is the only way to come into a relationship with God.

We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by Whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life; we further believe His power and gifts are available to believers today.

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRZ1zhGXd9M

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Growing In The Grace of God

“BUT GROW IN THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST” —2 PETER 3:18

God wants us to know His grace. He wants us to learn about it and then experience it at work in our lives. Grace has rightly been described as “God’s unmerited favor.” The acrostic “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense” captures even more of its majesty. Grace is God freely providing for us (as we trust in the work of His Son) all that we will ever need, all that we will ever yearn for, all that we could ever produce on our own, could never earn and never deserve. Grace offers what every human desperately needs, but what God alone can provide. This grace is found only in a person, the Lord Jesus. Thus it is accessible only through an ongoing relationship with Him.

[ Living Christ Ministries ]

http://livinginchrist.org/portfolio_page/growing-in-the-grace-of-god/

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Living Under Grace

With a never-ending supply of God’s grace in our lives, we may still find ourselves trying to earn God’s favor or taking advantage of His grace by living as though sin has no meaning. That’s why Tony Evans concludes this series with a plea to continue living underneath the authority of His grace, drawing near to Jesus Christ as we do.

[ Dr. Tony Evans ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfNNzeHVE4E

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Matt Chandler on Progressive Sanctification

A clip from Matt Chandler Q & A on Holy Discontentment.

Q&A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qa9zj2AcwLY

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Living Under Grace

[ Tony Evans ]

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTsOoyijME4
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZKBNSzFP58

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Progressive Definitive Sanctification

Jonathan Master interviews Dereck Thomas.

Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-KbJGQ497E

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Progressive Sanctification

[ Voddie Baucham ]

Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPd2jBR353k

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Progressive Sanctification?

We have been saved spiritually by new birth in God’s Spirit.

We are being saved from old attitudes by the renewing of the mind.

We will be saved physically by new resurrection bodies.

These are the so-called “three tenses of salvation.”

Maybe you’ve heard something like this before. And there is certainly a great deal of truth in framing things this way. Nevertheless, many still remain confused about the idea of “progressive sanctification’” and how that does or does not fit into the picture.

This was Kathy’s question when she emailed our ministry. In this short video clip, I address the three tenses of salvation and the idea of progressive sanctification.

I hope it is helpful to you today as you think through all that God has done for you and all that God is doing in and through you!

[ Andrew Farley ]

Radio Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVB2-pM5XJ4

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Quiet Time Doesn’t Earn God’s Grace

In less than five minutes, Bryan Chapell reshapes how we view God’s grace and love in light of our quiet time. He reminds us that spiritual disciplines don’t manufacture grace, but rather when we feast through Bible reading and prayer we enjoy grace that is already available.

Teaching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnsWeZJPejM

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Walk By Faith

Would I believe you when you would say
Your hand will guide my every way?
Will I receive the words you say
Every moment of every day?

Well I will walk by faith
Even when I cannot see
Well because this broken road
Prepares your will for me

Help me to win my endless fears
You’ve been so faithful for all my years
With one breath you make me new
Your grace covers all I do, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah yeah

Well I will walk by faith
Even when I cannot see
Well because this broken road
Prepares your will for me

Well I’m broken, but I still see your face
Well you’ve spoken, pouring your words of grace

Well I will walk by faith
Even when I cannot see
Well, because this broken road
Prepares your will for me

Well I will walk by faith
Even when I cannot see
Oh well, because this broken road
Prepares your will for me

I will walk by faith, I will walk by faith
(Hallelu) I will walk by faith, I will walk by
(Well hallelujah, hallelu) yeah, yeah
(Well hallelujah, hallelu) yeah, yeah
(Well hallelujah, hallelu) yeah, I will walk, I will walk, whoa, I will walk by faith
(Well hallelujah, hallelu) I will, oh yeah, I will, well I will walk by faith
(Well hallelujah)

[ Jeremy Camp – “Stay” album ]

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In The Light

(1, 2, 3)

I keep trying to find a life
On my own, apart from You
I am the king of excuses
I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do

What’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a Savior

[chorus]
I wanna be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light

The disease of self runs through my blood
It’s a cancer fatal to my soul
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
To bring this sickness under control

Tell me, what’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a Savior

[repeat chorus]

Honesty becomes me
(There’s nothing left to lose)
The secrets that did run me
(In Your presence are defused)
Pride has no position
(And riches have no worth)
The fame that once did cover me
(Has been sentenced to this Earth)
Has been sentenced to this Earth

Tell me, what’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a Savior

[repeat chorus 2x]

(There’s no other place that I want to be)
(No other place that I can see)
(A place to be that’s just right)
(Someday I’m gonna be in the Light)
(You are in the Light)
(That’s where I need to be)
(That’s right where I need to be)

[ D.C. Talk – “Jesus Freak” album ]

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Grace Got You

Have you ever met those who
Keep humming when the song’s through?
It’s like they’re living life to a whole different tune
And have you ever met those that
Keep hoping when it’s hopeless
It’s like they figured out what the rest haven’t yet
The second when you realize
When you have inside
It’s only just a matter of time ’til you
Sing, so the back row hears you
Glide, ’cause walking just won’t do
Dance, you don’t have to know how to
Ever since, ever since grace got you
Laugh, ’til your whole side’s hurting
Smile like you just got away with something
Why? ’Cause you just got away with something
Ever since, ever since grace got you
So when you’re standing in the rain again
You might as well be dancing
Why? ’Cause there ain’t no storm that can change how this ends
So next time when you feel blue
Don’t let that smile leave you
Why? ’Cause you have every reason just to
Sing, so the back row hears you
Glide, ’cause walking just won’t do
Dance, you don’t have to know how to
Ever since, ever since grace got you
Laugh, ’til your whole side’s hurting
Smile like you just got away with something
Why? ’Cause you just got away with something
Ever since, ever since grace got you
Ever since, ever since grace got you
Grace got you
Got away with something, bubbling inside of you
Spilling over ’cause your life is full, how incredible
Undeniable, monumental like the Eiffel
Uncontrollable, let the joy flow through, ha ha
Giddy oh, but pretty, pretty please
Let me see your hands in the air with you out your seats
Warm it up, let go, shout it out, celebrate
When you can’t articulate just say Amazing Grace
The second when you realize
When you have inside
It’s only just a matter of (only just a matter of)
It’s only just a matter of time ’til you
Sing, so the back row hears you
Glide, ’cause walking just won’t do
Dance, you don’t have to know how to
Ever since, ever since grace got you
Laugh, ’til your whole side’s hurting
Smile like you just got away with something
Why? ’Cause you just got away with something
Ever since, ever since grace got you
Yeah yea yea yea yea
Ever since, ever since grace got you
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Grace got you
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Ever since, ever since Grace got you
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Grace got you
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Grace got you

[ MercyMe – “Lifer“ album ]

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My Grace is Sufficient

From “God’s Grace” CD

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To Be Like Thee, Jesus

Oh to be like Thee dear Jesus my plea
Just to know Thou art formed fully in me
On with Thy beauty, Lord off with my sin
Fixed on Thy glory, Thy likeness to win

Oh to be like Thee, Thine image display
This is the Spirit’s work, day after day
Glory to glory, transformed by His grace
Till in Thy presence I stand face to face

To be like Thee Jesus
To be like Thee Jesus
For this I live, to the day I’ll die
It is my hope, my prayer, my cry

Oh to be like Thee, Thou lover of men
Gracious and gentle, compassionate friend
Merciful Savior, such kindness and care
Are only mine when Thy likeness I share

To be like Thee Jesus
To be like Thee Jesus
For this I live, to the day I’ll die
It is my hope, my prayer, my cry

To be like Thee Jesus
To be like Thee Jesus
For this I live, to the day I’ll die
It is my hope, my prayer, my cry

To be like Thee Jesus
To be like Thee Jesus
To be like Thee Jesus
To be like Thee Jesus

To be like Thee Jesus
To be like Thee Jesus
To be like Thee Jesus
To be like Thee Jesus

[ The Archers – “All systems Are Go” album

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O To Be Like Thee!

O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Refrain
O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

O to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

Refrain

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

Refrain

O to be like Thee! Lord, I am coming
Now to receive anointing divine;
All that I am and have I am bringing,
Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.

Refrain

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
[ Words: Thomas Chisholm; Music: William Kirkpatrick ]

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Take My Life and Let It Be

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee

Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I withhold
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose

Take my will, and make it Thine
It shall be no longer mine:
Take my heart, it is Thine own
It shall be Thy royal throne

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee

[ National Baptists Association choir ]

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Feelin’ Stronger In The Faith
(Parody of “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” by Chicago)

I do believe in You and I know You’re redeeming me
Oh yeah, oh yeah
And now I realize I’m not all that I’m s’posed to be
Oh yeah, oh yeah

And though I’m not too good at walkin’ in this grace
I do believe I’m feelin’ stronger in the faith

I know You really died to get Your sheep to the other side
Oh yeah, oh yeah
So now that Christ has come, Your chosen ones can live on and on
Oh yeah, oh yeah

And though I’m not too good at walkin’ in this grace
I do believe I’m feelin’ stronger in the faith
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Oh

After blood You shed for me
Ooh, daily now I can praise You easily
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I know that on Calvary (ahhhh)
The worst thing to happen to You (ahhhh)
Was the best thing to happen to me (ahhhh)
Yeah, yeah, yeah

LEAD

Feelin’ stronger in the faith
Feelin’ stronger in the faith
Feelin’ stronger in the faith (No turnin’ back now)
Feelin’ stronger in the faith (No turnin’ back now)
Feelin’ stronger in the faith (No turnin’ back now)
Feelin’ stronger in the faith (No turnin’ back now)
Feelin’ stronger in the faith (No turnin’ back now)
Feelin’ stronger in the faith (No turnin’ back now)

[ ApologetiX – “Unconditional Releases” album ]

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Going To Forget Our Bad Deeds
(Parody of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)“ performed by Simple Minds)

Hey, hey, hey, hey!
Oooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ohhhhh

Once you concede your bad deeds
How do you know there’s been atonement, baby?
Tell me, you struggle and doubt
Heaven could ever think you’re righteous now, yet
The Lord’s grace is real and it’s strong
He knows our tendencies that we are working on
No change can pull us from God
After Christ gets into your heart, baby

Don’t you — go fret about these
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t
He’s going to – forget our bad deeds

When you sin abruptly
Look God’s way – you’re never ugly
Grace keeps calling, grace keeps calling now, now, now
Will you recognize, please
Toddlers, they don’t walk upright
They keep falling, they keep falling down, down, down, down

Hey, hey, hey, hey!
Oooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ohhhhh

Don’t you try and pretend
It’s my opinion when it’s His command
I’ll quote — Hebrews
8:12 first and then 10:17 – it’s a surety – God’s
Going to forget our bad deeds
How will you know? Glance here in Romans 8, He
Told you straight from the start
God put His Spirit there in your heart, baby

Don’t you — go fret about these
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t
He’s going to – forget our bad deeds

’Cause He washed them white
When you called Christ’s name
Yes, He washed them white
When you called Christ’s name
And they’re washed away

Forever washed away

Well, He washed them white
The moment you called Christ’s name
When you called Christ’s name

And said, “Lord, la-la-la-Lor-ord
La-la-la-Lor-ord
La-la-la, la-la-la la-la-la-Lord
La-la-la-Lor-ord
La-la-la-Lor-ord
La-la-la, la-la-la la-la-la-Lord
La-la-la-Lor-ord
La-la-la-Lor-ord
La-la-la, la-la-la la-la-la-Lord
Well, He washed them white
When you called Christ name
Yes, He washed them white

[ ApologetiX – “I Know You Are But What Am I?” album ]

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I Made the Team
(Parody of “I’m Eighteen” by Alice Cooper)

I fall on my face and hands
The last ball knocked me on the ground
“Find us a hitter,“ they shout in the stands
I’m annoying all the fans

I made the team — and I don’t know how to bunt
Made the team — I just don’t score any runs
Made the team — I’ve got swing and pray
I’m gonna get out anyway
I’ll go running to the wrong base, oh yeah

I’ve got, a Babe Ruth’s waist and an old man’s arm
Look at me field — you’ll get alarmed
Don’t always throw where I’m taught, there’s no doubt
Still I keep winnin’ — it’s a miracle how

But I made the team — I get confused every play
Made the team — I guess I’m no Willie Mays
Made the team — my God He did the trade
LEAD

I fall on my face and my hands
I fall at the feet of Christ
I’m just a sinner — a little-league life
But I’m important in my Lord’s plans
I made the team, and I like it!
Yes, I like it! Whoa, I like it, love it, like it, love it
Made the team, made the team, made the team and I like it!

[ ApologetiX – The Boys Aren’t Backing Down” album ]

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God Knows You’ve Tried
(Parody of “Slide“ by The Goo Goo Dolls)

Hebrews 6:10 it’s right here – the thing to calm your fears
And give you inner strength – if you’ve been stumblin’
Do you take off on your own
And wonder when He’ll stop – forgiving all your faults?

God won’t forsake you where you are
He completes anything He starts
And God knows you’ve tried
Yeah, because He lives inside

Though your life seems unfulfilled
The King’s still on the throne, your Father didn’t walk
He won’t disown you
Go to Romans 7, bro, He sees your inner man
There’s nothing Christ can’t change
Just give Him time here

God won’t forsake you where you are
He completes anything He starts
And God knows you’ve tried
Yeah, because He lives inside

And Christ knows everything you ever did to feed His sheep
Do you think it counts for nothing at all?
No way
The grace of God’s abounding
Though you feel you’ve gone too far it’s not so far that you will fall
From grace
You’re gonna get carried somewhere safe

LEAD

And Christ knows everything you ever did to feed His sheep
Do you think it counts for nothing at all?
No way
The grace of God’s abounding
When you feel you’ve gone too far it’s not so far that you will fall
From grace
You’re gonna get carried somewhere safe

God won’t forsake you where you are
(I’d read Philippians 1:6)

And Christ knows everything you ever did to feed His sheep
Do you think that counts for nothing at all?
Yes, Christ knows everything you’ve done and everything you’ll do
He’s inside of you, I knew – what you’ve tried to do is proof
And Christ will never, never, never, never run away

[ ApologetiX – “Apoplectic” album ]

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Little Sins
(Parody of “Little Things“ by Bush)

Now Jesus Christ never did like
Folks who’d done wrong but swore they’d done right
Sinning is bound to happen to you
But prayer can repair whatever you do
But hypocrites don’t want to admit they need saved
Make the suggestion they punch in your face
They die by the law and you’d be dead, too
If you would try live out all its rules
Those who want to keep the law — must obey
But it’s the little sins that kill — turn it back to James 2:10
It’s the little sins that kill — the little sins that kill
There goes a girl — her figure is great
You’re lustin’ inside but you guess that’s O.K.
I’d call it adultery — and Jesus did, too
Matthew 5:28 — you always knew
All of us have fallen down — by the way
It’s the little sins that kill — turn it back to James again
It’s the little sins that kill — second chapter, James, verse 10
Oh, the little, little, little, little, little, little, little, little
Letter of the law letter of the law letter of the law letter of the law
Now watch your mouth — it really gets rude
I’m an idiot to ya, I’m a nincompoop, you said
You kill with words — it’s really a sin
’cause verbal abuse — is murder, my friend
CHORUS
Here come the little sins, here come the little ahhhhhh sins!

[ ApologetiX – Ticked” album ]

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More than Works
(Parody of “More than Words“ by Extreme)

They might tell you there’s lots of works God wants to see from you
That’s not the right attitude – none are saved by things that man can do
But Jesus said the deed was done on Calvary
More than works ‘cause all the good you do ain’t no big deal
And it couldn’t get you saved – that’s too costly –the Bible tells me so
What would you do if I quote Ephesians 2
No man’s works can save his soul – that’s so nobody can boast
The Good Book says that it’s not by works but grace
And you couldn’t make things new without faith in our Lord too
Now they might try to talk to you and make you just like them
(But) all you have to do is hope in Christ and just be born again
And trust the Holy Ghost – He’ll never let you go
More than works ‘cause all of men’s good deeds are still too small
And they couldn’t get you saved – but you can be ‘cause Christ already rose
What would you do if your heart was born anew
Your good works could show your faith, but you must first take His grace
What do you say? If you trust His Word today
Then you could still make things new just by prayin’ – why don’t you?

[ ApologetiX – Apol-acoustiX” album ]

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Try and Try Again
(Parody of “Flying High Again“ by Ozzy Osbourne)

Oh no (oh no)
You’ve really blown it now (You’ve really blown It now)
Oh no (oh no)
You’ve really blown it now

God has grace we really don’t quite understand
Gotta get it straight from Him
Feelin’ like I just might get my feet on the ground
Right before I stumble again

My insides are warrin’
I’ve been a sad, bad boy
So I say I’m sorry
And trust Him to fight this war

’Cause you can’t see what Christ showed me
(Christ can free us, Christ can free us)
If you at first don’t quite succeed
Try and try again (’gain)

I can see you doubt this ’cause the prince of fear
Tries to make you trust a lie
Following the law is not a sound idea
When you leave the grace behind – you get

Nothin’ but discouraged
Frightened and paranoid
Goin’ through Satan’s garbage
Or stuck in a pious void

If you could see the fights I’ve had
You’d see my flag ain’t white it’s red
Try and try again (’gain)
Try and try again
Try and try again (’gain)
Try and try again
Come on and join me!
LEAD

Try and try again (’gain)
Try and try again
Try and try again (’gain)
Come on and join me!
Oh no (oh no)
You’ve really blown it now (You’ve really blown It now)
Oh no (oh no)
You’ve really blown it now

Facin’ these temptations we need help to stand
There’s a war inside my head
People think that maybe God won’t lend a hand
Never had Him do that yet

Romans 7 warned me
I’ve been a sad, bad boy
Romans 8 informed me
There’s something that Christ is doin’

Try and try again (’gain)
Try and try again (’gain)
Try and try again (’gain)
Try and try again (’gain)

[ ApologetiX – “Doves in Snakes’ Clothing” album ]

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Handle With Prayer
(Parody of “Handle with Care” performed by The Traveling Wilburys)

Winds beat up and batted us round
Waves swept up but I did not drown
What a blessing to find solid ground
Man, though, we were scared

Then two crazed, unchainable
Men with demons followed us all
Yeah, they were more than horrible
And though we were scared

I saw fired-up demons moaning
Christ still had control of them
But He showed these Gadarenes He cared

Everybody
God’s Son brought us to Legion
Let’s just watch Him — exorcise — them demons

Christ did not stop and we made it through
I’ve seen something really cool
He made them enter some swine, too
Man, though we were scared
LEAD

When stuck in those hogs they realized
That they needed exercise
Over the slope the herd would dive
And then we were spared

I saw fired-up demons moaning
Christ still had control of them
But He showed these Gadarenes He cared

Everybody
God’s Son brought us to Legion
Let’s just watch Him — exorcise — them demons

I’ve seen those guys when they’re possessed
But they’re cleaning up and they’re both dressed
Matthew 8 tells us the rest
And Luke 8, it’s there

[ ApologetiX – “Nichey” album ]

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This Is from Paul
(Parody of “This is a Call” by The Foo Fighters)

Visited your cities – visiting was good
Seems that other men have come in since we taught there
Legalists deceived you – they can seem real good
Yet we know that every one is an imposter
This is from Paul to all my
Friends in Galatia
Listen to Paul, you all

Legalism’s pretty – legalism’s good
That’s if all you ever wanted was some bondage
They’ve got circumcision – and they say you should
But it’s all a bunch of autocratic nonsense
This is from Paul to all my
Friends in Galatia
Jesus fulfilled the law
This is from Paul to all my
Friends in Galatia
Repent or fall!
LEAD

Angels can be pretty – angels can be good
And yet some of them are fallen and are hostile
Satan is an angel – Satan is no good
And he nullifies and waters down the Gospel
This is from Paul to all my
Friends in Galatia
Grace is above the law*
This is from Paul to all my
Friends in Galatia
Listen to Paul!
LEAD

Legalists are pretty – legalists are good
At dissolving all the progress that we started
They will soon regret it – we’ll see where they stood
When they’re underground and cut off and departed
REPEAT SECOND CHORUS

*NOTE: That doesn’t mean Christians have a license to sin. As others
have put it, “Christ gave us freedom from sin, not freedom to sin.
1 John 2:1 sums it up this way: “My dear children, I write this to you
so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who
speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

[ ApologetiX – “Apoplectic” album ]

https://www.jgospel.net/c/2/149917/279/3986/ApologetiX-This-Is-From-Paul-This-is-a-Call-.aspx

 

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DEEP THOUGHTS:

“And grow in God’s grace. More verb than noun, more present tense than past tense, grace didn’t just happen; it happens. Grace happens here. The same work God did through Christ long ago on a cross is the work God does throughout Christ right now in you.”
[ Max Lucado ]

“Prayer is more than a wish; it is the voice of faith directed to God.”
[ Billy Graham ]

“Just as the sinner’s despair of any hope from himself is the first prerequisite of a sound conversion, so the loss of all confidence in himself is the first essential in the believer’s growth in grace.”
[ A.W. Pink ]

“There is nothing more important to learn about Christian growth than this: Growing in grace means becoming like Christ.”
[ Sinclair Ferguson ]

“In our generation we have increasingly suffered from spiritual lethargy and powerlessness. There is a high percentage of weak and lukewarm Christians in western churches who evidence little interest in growing in grace and knowledge. The church may be bustling with activity and at the same time be infiltrated and permeated with the world’s thinking and doing. It is sometimes the case that our bright forms of worship camouflage a dead spiritual condition.”
[ Erroll Hulse ]

“It is, in fact, a law of the spiritual life that the further you go, the more you are aware of the distance still to be covered. Your growing desire for God makes you increasingly conscious, not so much of where you are in your relationship with Him as of where as yet you are not.”
[ J.I. Packer ]

“God’s ultimate goal for us, however, is that we be truly conformed to the likeness of His Son in our person as well as in our standing… Jesus did not die just to save us from the penalty of sin, nor even just to make us holy in our standing before God. He died to purify for Himself a people eager to obey Him, a people eager to be transformed into His likeness… This process of gradually conforming us to the likeness of Christ begins at the very moment of our salvation when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us and to actually give us a new life in Christ. We call this gradual process progressive sanctification, or growing in holiness, because it truly is a growth process.”
[ Jerry Bridges ]

“Before growing in our relationship with God, we must have a relationship with Him. It is meaningless to even address other needs before addressing our personal relationship with God. Without God and His enabling power, we cannot effectively change any part of our lives.”
[ Karl Graustein ]

“In his Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards suggested that true growth in Christian discipleship is not finally mere excitement, increasing use of religious language, or a growing knowledge of Scripture. It is not even an evident increase in joy or in love or concern for the church. Even increases in zeal and praise to God and confidence of one’s own faith are not infallible evidences of true Christian growth. What, then, is evidence of true Christian growth? According to Edwards, while all these things may be evidences of true Christian growth, the only certain observable sign of such growth is a life of increasing holiness, rooted in Christian self-denial. The church should be marked by a vital concern for this kind of increasing godliness in the lives of its members.”
[ Mark Dever ]

“The majority of Christian men and women who pray to a Living God know very little about real prevailing prayer. Yet prayer is the key that unlocks the door of God’s treasure-house. It is not too much to say that all real growth in the spiritual life – all victory over temptation, all confidence and peace in the presence of difficulties and dangers, all repose of spirit in times of great disappointment or loss, all habitual communion with God – depends upon the practice of secret prayer.”
[ Andrew Murray ]

“The Christian life is very much like climbing a hill of ice. You cannot slide up. You have to cut every step with an ice axe. Only with incessant labor in cutting and chipping can you make any progress. If you want to know how to backslide, leave off going forward. Cease going upward and you will go downward of necessity. You can never stand still.”
[ Charles Spurgeon ]

“I am certain that I never did grow in grace one-half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain.”
[ Charles Spurgeon ]

“As Christians grow in holy living, they sense their own inherent moral weakness and rejoice that whatever virtue they possess flourishes as the fruit of the Spirit.”
[ D.A. Carson ]

“The Spiritual Disciplines are those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth. They are the habits of devotion and experiential Christianity that have been practiced by the people of God since biblical times…The Spiritual Disciplines are the God-given means we are to use in the Spirit-filled pursuit of Godliness.”
[ Donald S. Whitney ]

“Most of us have never really understood that Christianity is not a self-help religion meant to enable moral people to become more moral. We don’t need a self-help book; we need a Savior. We don’t need to get our collective act together; we need death and resurrection and the life-transforming truths of the gospel. And we don’t need them just once, at the beginning of our Christian life; we need them every moment of every day.”
[ Elyse Fitzpatrick ]

“Gradual growth in grace, growth in knowledge, growth in faith, growth in love, growth in holiness, growth in humility, growth in spiritual-mindedness – all this I see clearly taught and urged in Scripture, and clearly exemplified in the lives of many of God’s saints. But sudden, instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see in the Bible.”
[ J.C. Ryle ]

“One thing essential to growth in grace is diligence in the use of private means of grace. By these I understand such means as a man must use by himself alone, and no one can use for him. I include under this head private prayer, private reading of the Scriptures, and private meditation and self-examination. The man who does not take pains about these three things must never expect to grow. Here are the roots of true Christianity. Wrong here, and a man is wrong all the way through.”
[J.C. Ryle ]

“If I have observed anything by experience, it is this: a man may take the measure of his growth and decay in grace according to his thoughts and meditations upon the person of Christ, and the glory of Christ’s Kingdom, and of His love.”
[ John Owen ]

“Looking over my 90 years, I realize I have never made any progress in good times. I only progressed in the hard times.”
[ Malcolm Muggeridge ]

“Before growing in our relationship with God, we must have a relationship with Him. It is meaningless to even address other needs before addressing our personal relationship with God. Without God and His enabling power, we cannot effectively change any part of our lives.”
[ Karl Graustein ]

“There is a vast difference, however, between childlike faith and childish faith, though the two are often confused. [Childlike faith calls the believer] to remain forever in a state of awe and trust of their heavenly Father, while a childish faith balks at learning the things of God in depth. It refuses the meat of the gospel while clinging to a diet of milk…The call of the New Testament is to maturity.”
[ R.C. Sproul ]

“Disappointment is essential for spiritual growth. Sadly too many Christians have horrible theology and allow the disappointment to consume them. Instead of growing, they backslide. In the Bible we read that Joseph held to God’s promises despite horrible circumstances. And though Joseph did not specifically know the good that God was doing, he simply trusted God in faith that God was doing something good. Belief can never be predicated on understanding. If so, there would be no need for faith. Little did he know that God was in the process of making this young boy a man. God’s purposes for Joseph would stand despite the long delay. Yet there was a purpose in that delay for God to polish the instrument of God through affliction.”
[ Randy Smith ]

“There is a discipline involved in Christian growth. The rapidity with which a man grows spiritually and the extent to which he grows, depends upon this discipline. It is the discipline of the means.”
[ Richard Halverson ]

“There is a discipline involved in Christian growth. The rapidity with which a man grows spiritually and the extent to which he grows, depends upon this discipline. It is the discipline of the means.”
[ Sinclair Ferguson ]

“Too often we fail to appreciate that [the] apprehension of God is not only the test of our worship, but also the test of our spiritual growth. A Christian’s real development in spiritual life will always be revealed by how he or she thinks about God – how much he thinks about Him, and how highly he thinks about Him.”
[ Sinclair Ferguson ]

 

RELATED SCRIPTURE VERSES:
[ All Scriptures below are from “Joy Baptist Church”: http://joy-baptist.com/grace.html ]

We have an Example to Follow.

1 Peter 2: 21-24

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

CLEAR, DISTINCT COMMANDMENTS

Love God.

Matthew 22: 37-38
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

1 John 5: 2-3
This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

Love Our Neighbors.

Matthew 22: 39-40
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Galatians 5: 14
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

1 John 4: 7-11
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Ephesians 4: 31 – 32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Love Our Enemies.

Matthew 5: 43 – 48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

SIMPLE COMMANDMENTS

Galatians 5: 16-18
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Ephesians 5:15-16
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

STUDY GOD’S WORD

2 Timothy 3: 16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Psalm 119: 11
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

1 Thessalonians 5: 20-22
Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.

PRAY

Pray continually

1 Thessalonians 5:17
pray continually,

Philippians 4: 6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Pray for understanding, guidance and help

Psalm 119: 18
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

James 1: 5-7
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Matthew 11: 28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

1 Peter 5: 6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Pray for one another

James 5: 16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Pray sincerely

Matthew 6: 5 – 8
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Ask according to His will
1 John 5: 14-15

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

John 15: 7
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

James 4: 1-3
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

Example given by Christ – The Lord’s Prayer

Matthew 6: 9-13
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us ourdebts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Luke 11: 2-4
He said to them, “When you pray, say: “ ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’ ”

WORSHIP

With Others

Psalm 95: 6-7
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice,

Psalm 122: 1
I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

Hebrews 10: 24-25
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Colossians 3: 16-17
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

John 4: 23-24
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Hebrews 13: 15-16
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

SEEK GOD’S WILL

Be lead by the Holy Spirit

Matthew 6: 31-33
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

John 14:16-17
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

John 14: 26
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Ephesians 5: 18-20
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5: 18-24
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

WALK THE TALK

James 1: 22
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Galatians 5: 25-26
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Luke 11: 28
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

2 Peter 1: 4-8
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 3: 12-15
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

1 Corinthians 15:33
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11-22
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.

SHARE

Share your Faith

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Matthew 28:18-20
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Colossians 4: 6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Share your Treasures and Talents

1 John 3: 17-18
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

Matthew 6: 19 – 21
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6: 1-4
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

1 Peter 4: 8-9
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Peter 4:10-11
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

SERVE OTHERS

Galatians 5: 13
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

Hebrews 13: 15-16
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH TEMPTATION

James 1: 13-15
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Matthew 26:41
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

1 Timothy 6: 9-11
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

James 4:7
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.=

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

 

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“A quick summary of the Christian “Gospel”:
JESUS’ PROPITIATION made our SINS FORGIVEN and IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS to us so that we have GOD’S ACCEPTANCE into His Heaven and ETERNAL LIFE.”
[ Mark Besh ]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ’pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,“ if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

FOCUS VERSES:

“But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
[ 2 Peter 3:18a ]

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation”
[ 1 Peter 2:2 ]

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
[ 2 Corinthians 3:18 ]

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
[ 1 Corinthians 15:10 ].

Mark

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If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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